Martin Bashir obtained his bombshell interview of Princess Diana on the 1995 BBC “Panorama” program by “deceitful” means, according to U.K. newspaper the Telegraph.
The findings of an independent investigation are expected to be published on Thursday. It was conducted by Lord Dyson and the report is understood to be critical of the role of Tony Hall, former director general of the BBC and then the corporation’s head of news and current affairs, in the matter.
The Dyson report is separate from the Panorama investigative team’s own investigation into the earlier episode.
Richard Ayre, BBC controller of editorial policy in 1995, told the Telegraph: “The use of deceit in making factual programs would have been permissible only in the case of investigating serious crime . . . and where prima facie evidence of the guilt of that person being investigated had already been obtained. Those circumstances clearly don’t apply to an interview with the Princess of Wales.”
Bashir and the program have been under investigation for several months after it was alleged in documentaries on U.K. broadcasters ITV and Channel 4 that the journalist may have used forged bank documents to secure access to the princess.
The forged statements allegedly showed that two senior courtiers were being paid by security services for information on Diana. The statements were seen by Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, who has said that they were the basis of him introducing Bashir to his sister while she was alive.
Spencer called for an enquiry into the matter last year, some 23 years after her death in Paris, and got in touch with BBC director-general Tim Davie. “The BBC is taking this very seriously and we want to get to the truth,” Davie said in November 2020.
Bashir quit the BBC recently on health grounds.
A “Panorama” program, which presents the results of its internal probe into the 1995 interview, will finally be broadcast on Thursday after being postponed twice.