The BBC’s Bashir tricked Princess Diana into an interview

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Tim Graham / Corbis via Getty Images

An independent research has found that the BBC “did not meet its high standards of integrity and transparency” and journalist Martin Bashir acted “deceptively” to ensure its 1995 explosive interview with Princess Diana.

He famous Panorama interview it was the first time a member of the royal family spoke frankly about his life and Diana withheld nothing.

He said that royal life had led him to bulimia and self-harm and that no one in the royal family helped him, instead of accepting his behavior and calling it “unstable”. He admitted he had an affair with his driving instructor, James Hewitt. She talked about the long story of her husband, Prince Charles, with Camilla Parker-Bowles, famously saying, “There were three of us in this marriage, so I was a little crowded.”

She also questioned Charles’ ability to be king and doubted that she would ever be queen of the country, saying that instead “she would like to be a queen of people’s hearts.”

The consequences of the interview, which saw more than 20 million people, were seismic. That make sure Diana’s place in public view as an offended victim of a senseless monarchy and torpedo the public opinion of the monarchy, particularly of Charles. And, shortly after its issuance, the queen ordered Charles and Diana, who had been separated for more than two years, to formally file for divorce.

But go ahead November 2, 2020, weeks before the 25th anniversary of the interview, the Daily Mail published a letter from Diana’s brother Charles Spencer, ninth Earl Spencer, accusing the BBC of “pure dishonesty” and unethical backstage maneuvers to ensure the ‘interview.

Following his public statements, the BBC launched an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the interview.

Anwar Hussein / WireImage / Getty Images / Via dailymail.co.uk

Earl Spencer and his nephews, Prince William and Prince Harry, follow the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales, at her funeral on 6 September 1997.

According to this investigation, the conclusions of which were published on Thursday, Bashir “tricked” Earl Spencer with false information in order to obtain a presentation from his royal sister, which he then used to accept an interview. Then, when this information first came to light, the BBC “covered up investigations into how [Bashir] he assured the interview and the ownership of the methods he used ”.

In an effort to earn Earl Spencer’s trust, Bashir “commissioned” an involuntary BBC graphic artist to create bank documents that appeared to show that a former employee of his had been paid for by a group of newspapers. The report also indicates that Bashir created additional bank statements that appeared to show that two of Diana’s current aides were paid by the same group of newspapers (the implication was that the payments were in exchange for selling private information to the newspapers). After the meeting where Bashir showed Earl Spencer these documents, he introduced the journalist to his royal sister.

“By accessing Princess Diana in this way, Mr. Bashir was able to convince her to agree to grant the interview,” wrote Lord Dyson, the former judge who conducted the investigation.

Dyson Investigation / BBC / Via bbc.com

Shortly after the interview aired, the graphic designer who drafted the forged documents addressed BBC executives with their concerns about how they might have been used, according to a History of the guardian published on April 8, 1996 – a day after the Mail on Sunday he broke the news of the existence of the forged documents and accused the BBC of carrying out “a covert, cunning and misleading exercise” to secure the interview.

At the time, the BBC was conducting an internal investigation that ended with Bashir and Panorama, finding that the documents were “in no way” used to get the princess to accept an interview.

But in his report, Lord Dyson described the BBC’s internal investigation as “unfortunately ineffective”. Bashir, he said, repeatedly lied to his superiors about the circumstances in which he had obtained the interview and, among many other things, the BBC did not interview Earl Spencer, but “accepted the account Mr Bashir gave them as true “.

“I am pleased that the BBC covered in its press records facts as it had been able to establish about how Bashir got the interview,” Lord Dyson said.

The interview was conducted in secret; the Palace’s press relations team did not know about it until it was recorded and only a handful of people on the BBC were aware of its existence until the Panorama the air date of the episode was set. (El BBC chair At the time, Marmaduke Hussey was “extremely unhappy” that network executives had not informed him of the program in advance.)

The timing of the interview was also significant. In his biography Isabel the Queen: the life of a modern monarch, historian Sally Bedell Smith writes that Diana “intentionally” waited for Prince Charles’ birthday on November 14 to inform the Palace that the Panorama – and the interview aired on November 20, the 48th wedding anniversary of the Queen and Prince Philip.

Despite the “deceptive” backstage maneuvers, Lord Dyson concluded that Diana, at the time she first introduced herself to Bashir, “was interested in the idea of ​​a television interview” and “would probably have agreed to be interviewed.” by any experienced and trusted reporter whom he trusted even without Mr. Bashir’s intervention. “

“At any time, Princess Diana was pleased with the interview,” Lord Dyson said.

In a statement, Bashir, who retired from his post as the BBC’s religion editor last week, apologized for falsifying the documents, but insisted that “they had no influence on Princess Diana’s personal decision to participate in the interview.” He also provided the investigation with a handwritten note from Diana stating that he had not shown her “any documents or data[n] any information you did not know before ”.

Dyson Investigation / BBC / Via bbc.com

The current BBC president Richard Sharp said the corporation “unreservedly accepted” the report’s findings, a sentiment also expressed by its current CEO, Tim Davie.

“While the report indicates that Diana, Princess of Wales, was interested in the idea of ​​an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the process for obtaining the interview was much less than the public is entitled to. to wait, ”Davie said. “While the current BBC has significantly better processes and procedures, those that existed at the time should prevent the interview from being guaranteed in this way.”

“While the BBC cannot turn back the clock after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology. The BBC is offering it today.”

The BBC reported that the corporation has sent personal letters of apology to the children of Diana, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, as well as Earl Spencer.

On Thursday, Earl Spencer said he believes his sister could still be alive if Bashir had not agreed to be interviewed, saying his informational tactics led Diana to believe she could not trust those around her.

Bashir, he said, was “very good at amplifying people’s anxieties” and giving the impression that “he would save you in a difficult and dangerous world.” ”

“I didn’t know who to trust and in the end, when he died two years later, I had no real protection whatsoever.”



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