LONDON – The BBC has apologized after an investigation found journalist Martin Bashir used “deceptive behavior” to secure a landmark interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.
An independent report released Thursday after a months-long investigation found Bashir acted inappropriately and violated the publicly funded broadcaster’s editorial guidelines in order to gain access to the royal, who told him in the November interview. 1995 that “there were three of us in this marriage.”
She was referring to her husband Prince Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he would marry in 2005, eight years after Diana died in a car crash in August 1997.
The landmark interview was watched by over 20 million people in Britain and sent shockwaves through the royal family. Months after it aired, Diana and Charles divorced.
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BBC Managing Director Tim Davie apologized on Thursday.
“Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was excited about an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the process of securing the interview did not live up to this. what the public is entitled to expect, ”he said in a statement.
“We are very sorry for this.”
The interview came under new scrutiny after the release of a documentary by UK broadcaster ITV titled “The Diana Interview: Revenge of a Princess”, which aired last November. He claimed that Bashir had a graphic designer create fake bank statements, which he then used to convince Diana that royal employees were being paid to spy on her.
Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, tweeted by November 8, he knew that Bashir “had used false bank statements and other dishonesty to trick my sister into doing the interview.”
Spencer also claimed he found out that the BBC was also aware of the fake bank statements. He asked the network to apologize for the forged documents that led him to introduce Bashir to his sister.
Just 10 days later, the network appointed Lord John Anthony Dyson, a former UK Supreme Court justice, to look into the circumstances surrounding the interview.
His investigation also covered an internal BBC investigation after the original show which concluded that Bashir had not coerced Diana into speaking to him.
Thursday’s report concluded that Bashir had indeed ordered the bank statements and showed them to Earl Spencer, Diana’s younger brother, to “encourage him to arrange the meeting with Princess Diana”.
Hours before the publication of his findings, Charles Spencer tweeted a childhood photo with Diana, alongside the post: “Some links go way back.”
Bashir went to work for another UK network before joining ABC in the US, then MSNBC where he was a news anchor. He returned to the BBC in 2016 and resigned his post as editor of religious affairs last week after months of poor health.
The BBC revealed last year that the 58-year-old suffered serious complications from the coronavirus and had heart surgery.
He has not publicly commented on the matter.
Diana’s two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, said they welcomed the investigation as a chance to find out the truth about what happened.
British police ruled out a criminal investigation into her actions earlier this year, but the findings of the independent investigation are likely to have profound implications for the BBC, as she also condemned the network’s top executives at the time for not having met the expected standards.
It comes at a sensitive time for the royal family, as the new generation of royals fear they may suffer from media intrusion. Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have repeatedly complained to the tabloid press and have won a series of lawsuits against a number of media outlets.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report