Princess Diana interview with Martin Bashir will never be shown again, says BBC boss

·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read

Watch: BBC board to review editorial policies following Lord Dyson report

The BBC will never show the Panorama interview with Princess Diana again following a damning report about how it was obtained, its director general has said.

Tim Davie told Radio 4's Today programme that he was shocked but accepted the conclusions in full of a report by Lord Dyson that investigated how Martin Bashir secured the 1995 interview.

Diana's son Prince William said it "should never be aired again", and Davie confirmed on Tuesday the BBC will honour that wish.

He said: "I've got no intention in airing the interview ever again."

He added: "I think we need to discuss clips and reflect on that. If you take the Panorama programme – I note that no other organisation in the world would have let their journalistic organisation investigate ourselves. 

"I think there is a legitimate case around whether you need clips to show the context of that interview.

"My view is you cannot now look at this interview free from the context in which it was secured. Any use of clips have to be considered in that context."

Martin Bashir interviews Princess Diana in Kensington Palace for the television program Panorama. (Photo by © Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Princess Diana being interviewed in Kensington Palace for Panorama in 1995. (Corbis via Getty Images)

Read more: 7 of Princess Diana's explosive claims in BBC interview that tore royals in two

The Dyson report found Bashir used deceitful behaviour to get an interview with Diana, and that the BBC did not properly investigate when it held its own internal probe in 1996 into the faked bank statements he had mocked up.

Diana's brother the Earl Spencer raised fresh concerns about the statements that led to the Dyson report, stating he would not have introduced Bashir to Diana if it were not for the documents.

He has also said he draws a line from the interview to the death of his sister, who was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

The report did also acknowledge that Diana was likely to have done an interview around that time, even if it was not with Bashir and Panorama. Prince Charles had admitted adultery with Camilla, then Parker-Bowles, the year before.

Davie said Bashir, 58, is still on the BBC payroll for now as he is working out a notice period, having quit on health grounds before the results of the report were released.

Davie is also investigating why Bashir was re-hired in 2016 as the broadcaster's religion editor.

There are allegations that Bashir was hired to "keep his mouth shut" about the circumstances of the Diana interview.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 12: Martin Bashir attends the ITV Palooza 2019 at The Royal Festival Hall on November 12, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/WireImage)
Martin Bashir in 2019 at the Royal Festival Hall. Bashir has quit the BBC but is working out his notice. (Joe Maher/WireImage)

In the House of Commons on Monday, Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, told MPs: "My sources suggest Mr Bashir was not interviewed, [but] simply appointed. Hardly a highly competitive process... 

"Was Bashir rehired in essence so he would keep his mouth shut?"

A BBC spokesman said: "We are investigating the circumstances around the hiring of Martin Bashir in 2016. 

"We have written to Julian Knight to say the information he was given and referred to in his comments in the House this afternoon is not correct, and we can confirm there was an interview process for this position, and that Martin Bashir was interviewed as part of that."

Davie said on Tuesday morning that he does not know why Bashir was rehired but that the findings of a short internal investigation would be released in the next week. 

Both princes William and Harry released statements after the Dyson report, with William saying his mother had been failed by the BBC, and Harry saying she "lost her life" because of the "ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices". 

The BBC apologised to the Royal Family, and Bashir also offered an apology in an interview with The Times.

However, he stood by the interview's contents, saying: "I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did.

"Everything we did in terms of the interview was as she wanted, from when she wanted to alert the palace, to when it was broadcast, to its contents... My family and I loved her."

He said the princess was a "trailblazer" for mental health issues, pointing out that her sons have both continued that work since then.

Watch: Bashir's 'fantasy' fed Diana's fear, says Andrew Morton

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