The BBC’s Bashir tricked Princess Diana into the interview

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An independent investigation found that the BBC “did not meet its high standards of integrity and transparency” and reporter Martin Bashir acted in a “deceptive” way to ensure its explosive 1995 interview with Princess Diana.

U famous Panorama interview it was the first time a member of the royal family had spoken sincerely of his life in firmly negative terms – and Diana felt nothing.

She said real life had led her to bulimia and self-loathing and that no one in the royal family was helping her, instead discarding her behavior and marking her “unstable”. He admitted to having an affair with his riding instructor, James Hewitt. She talked about the story of her foreign husband, Prince Charles, with Camilla Parker-Bowles, famously saying, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it 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 the people’s hearts.”

The repercussion from the interview, which was watched by more than 20 million people, was seismic. It is assured Diana’s place in the eyes of the world as an unjust victim of a meaningless monarchy and torpedo the public opinion of the royal family, in particular of Charles. And, immediately after her release, the queen ordered Charles and Diana, who had been separated for more than two years, to formally file for divorce.

But forward November 2, 2020, Weeks before the 25th anniversary of the interview, the Daily Mail published a letter from Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer, accusing the BBC of “pure dishonesty” and unethical maneuvers behind the scenes for secure the interview.

Following its public statements, the BBC launched an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the interview.

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

According to this investigation, the results of which were published Thursday, Bashir “tricked” Earl Spencer with false information to get a presentation to his royal sister, who he later used to accept an interview. After this information came to light, the BBC “covered the investigation into how [Bashir] ensured the interview and ownership of the methods he used ”.

In an effort to gain Earl Spencer’s trust, Bashir “commissioned” a BBC graphic artist to create bank documents that appeared to show that a former employee had been paid by a group of newspapers. The report also states that Bashir created additional bank statements that appeared to show that two of Diana’s current senior assistants were paid by the same group of newspapers (implying 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 reporter to his royal sister.

“By acceding to Princess Diana, Mr. Bashir was able to convince her to agree to give the interview,” wrote Lord Dyson, the former judge who led the investigation.

Dyson Investigation / BBC / Via

Shortly after the broadcast of the interview, the graphic designer who made the forged documents approached former BBC executives with their concerns about how they might have been used, according to a Guardian’s story published April 8, 1996 – a day after the Mail on Sunday he published the news of the existence of the forged documents and accused the BBC of staging “a secret, cunning and deceptive exercise” to secure the interview.

The BBC, at the time, conducted an internal investigation which ultimately freed Bashir and Panorama, finding that the documents were “in no way” used to get the princess to agree to an interview.

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

“I am pleased that the BBC has covered in its press journals facts that had been able to establish how Bashir handled the interview,” Lord Dyson said.

The interview itself was done in secret; the Palace’s press relations team did not know it until after its registration and only a handful of people at the BBC were aware of its existence until the Panorama The broadcast date of the episode has been set. (U BBC Chair at the time, Marmaduke Hussey was “extremely unhappy” that network leaders had not told him about the program in advance.)

The interview time was also significant. In his biography Elizabeth Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch, historian Sally Bedell Smith writes that Diana “quite intentionally” waited until Prince Charles’ birthday on November 14 to inform the Palace that she was to appear Panorama – and the interview itself was broadcast on November 20, 48 years of marriage of the Queen and Prince Philip.

Despite the “deceptive” maneuvers behind the scenes, Lord Dyson concluded that Diana was, at the time of her first presentation to Bashir, “attentive to the idea of ​​a television interview” and “would probably have agreed to be interviewed by any experienced and reputable reporter in whom he had confidence even without the intervention of Mr. Bashir ”.

“Whatever reservation she might have made later, Princess Diana was happy with the interview at the time,” Lord Dyson said.

In a statement, Bashir, who retired from his position as BBC religion editor last week, apologized for falsifying the documents but insisted that “they had no influence on the personal choice by Princess Diana to participate in the interview”. He also gave the investigation a handwritten note from Diana stating that he had not shown her “any documents or data.”[n] any information that was not known before ”.

Dyson Investigation / BBC / Via

The current president of the BBC, Richard Sharp, said the company had “unreservedly accepted” the results of the report, a sentiment also expressed by its current director general, Tim Davie.

“Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was interested in the idea of ​​an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the process to secure the interview is far from what the public has a right to expect. , ”Davie said. “While today’s BBC has significantly improved processes and procedures, those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview from being conducted in this way.”

“While the BBC can’t turn back hours after a quarter of a century, we can make a complete and unconditional apology. The BBC is offering it today.”

The BBC said the company had sent personal letters of apology to Diana’s children, Prince William and Prince Harry, and to Earl Spencer and Prince Charles.

On Thursday, Earl Spencer said he believed his sister could still be alive if she had not agreed to be interviewed by Bashir, saying her reporting tactics made Diana believe she could not trust those she met. they have it around them.

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

“I didn’t know what to trust and in the end, when she died two years later, she was without any form of real protection.”

Harry and William both published statements exploiting the media in response to the findings of the investigation. Thursday.

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