Police to 'assess' bombshell report on BBC's 1995 Panorama interview with Diana

21 May 2021, 09:40 | Updated: 21 May 2021, 13:24

Martin Bashir and Princess Diana in the BBC Panorama interview in 1995
Martin Bashir and Princess Diana in the BBC Panorama interview in 1995 . Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Police will "assess" the contents of the bombshell report on the BBC's 1995 Panorama interview with Princess Diana "to ensure there is no significant new evidence".

It comes after an independent review found that journalist Martin Bashir used fabricated bank statements to "deceive" Princess Diana's brother to secure access to her.

Scotland Yard said in a statement that officers had determined in March that "it was not appropriate to begin a criminal investigation into allegations of unlawful activity in connection with a documentary broadcast in 1995, but should any significant new evidence emerge it would be assessed".

It added: "Following the publication of Lord Dyson's report we will assess its contents to ensure there is no significant new evidence."

The BBC has issued a "full and unconditional" apology for what it described as "unacceptable failures" in how Bashir secured the interview.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "obviously very concerned" about the report, adding that he hoped the broadcaster "will be taking every possible step to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again".

Read more: BBC sends apology letters to William and Harry over interview with Diana

Read more: William says BBC contributed to Diana's 'fear and paranoia' in final years

Meanwhile, letters of apology were sent by director general Tim Davie to the Queen, Prince Charles and Princes William and Harry for the deceit behind the Diana interview.

Key findings from the landmark report:

  • Martin Bashir breached BBC rules by mocking up fake bank statements and showing them to Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, to gain access to Princess Diana
  • He acted to deceive Earl Spencer and encourage him to arrange for Bashir to meet Diana.
  • Bashir was therefore able to persuade her to agree to give the interview
  • The BBC "fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark" in the subsequent investigation

On Thursday, Prince William accused the corporation of failures which "contributed significantly" to Diana's "fear, paranoia and isolation" in her final years.

Prince Harry: 'I turned to drink and drugs to cope with trauma of Diana's death'

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The Duke of Cambridge said it was "extremely concerning" to see how BBC employees behaved in setting up the interview and said it should never be broadcast again.

"It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents' relationship worse and has since hurt countless others," the duke said.

"It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC's failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.

"But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived.

"She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions."

In the interview Diana famously declared that “there were three of us in this marriage,” in a reference to Prince Charles’s ongoing relationship with his now wife Camilla.

Bashir stepped down as the BBC's religion editor last Friday due to ongoing health issues.

He responded to Lord Dyson's report by apologising once again for what he did, saying it was "a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret".

"I also reiterate that the bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview," the journalist added.

The BBC's current director-general Tim Davie said the corporation accepts "in full" the finding of Lord Dyson's report into the interview.

Lord Dyson, the former master of the rolls and head of civil justice, was appointed to look into the circumstances surrounding the 1995 interview, during which Diana famously spoke about her "crowded marriage".