Boris Johnson today demanded the BBC takes action to ensure ‘nothing like this can ever happen again’ in the wake of the damning Diana interview report.
The PM said he was ‘obviously concerned’ by Lord Dyson’s findings about the corporation’s conduct in the episode more than 25 years ago.
‘I can only imagine the feelings of the royal family and I hope very much that the BBC will be taking every possible step to make sure nothing like this ever happens again,’ he told reporters during a visit to Portsmouth.
The comments came as ministers threatened an overhaul of BBC governance – and Tory MPs insisted the corporation faces ‘existential’ questions.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland confirmed that the government would be looking at ‘wider issues’ after ‘damning’ failings were exposed.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has suggested there could be drastic reforms to the BBC’s structure before its charter is renewed.
The PM said he was ‘obviously concerned’ by Lord Dyson’s findings about the corporation’s conduct in the episode 25 years ago
The Dyson report has sparked an outcry over how the interview with Diana was obtained
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden raised the prospect of major changes in a tweet last night
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland confirmed that the government would be looking at ‘wider issues’ after ‘damning failings’ were exposed by Lord Dyson’s investigation
In a round of interviews, Mr Buckland said the government will ‘take time’ to look at the details of the Dyson report.
‘There may be issues that Lord Dyson wasn’t asked to cover that need to be looked at more widely, so it is a very serious moment for the BBC,’ he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
‘They have apologised, which is appropriate, but clearly the wider issues of governance and the way things are run now need to be looked at.’
He added on Sky News: ‘An apology is a start but I don’t think it’s the end of it.’
In a tweet posted last night, Mr Dowden said: ‘Lord Dyson’s report reveals damning failings at the heart of the BBC.
‘We will now reflect on Lord Dyson’s thorough report and consider whether further governance reforms at the BBC are needed in the mid-term Charter review.’
The broadcaster is in talks with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport over the next licence fee settlement, which would begin in 2027.
But Downing Street said the review will only look at the corporation’s governance and regulation, not its editorial independence.
Following the publication of Lord Dyson’s report into the handling of the Panorama interview of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman was asked if the BBC’s editorial independence was under threat in an upcoming review of the Royal Charter under which it operates.
He pointed to a statement made by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden who said ministers would now consider whether further governance reforms were needed, and added: ‘I would point you to the details of the mid-term charter review which, as you know, takes place between 2022 and 2024 and it can only look at the way the BBC is governed and regulated.’
The inquiry found that the BBC fell short of ‘high standards of integrity and transparency’ over Bashir’s 1995 interview with Diana.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said there were ‘searching questions’ for the BBC in the wake of the report by Lord Dyson into its handling of the Panorama interview of Diana, Princess of Wales.
She told Sky News: ‘With a free press and free media, the media themselves and our broadcasters, and the national broadcaster, has a huge sense of responsibility with the way in which they investigate, review and conduct their own media reports.
‘So there will be very, very strong searching questions for the BBC post the publication of this report.’
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The way the BBC now reacts to this will help people decide whether or not it has learned its lessons and whether as a publicly funded organisation it stands for the highest standards in journalism.
‘At the moment it is in the dock for the lowest standards. If they try to brush this under the carpet it will enrage people. This was a terrible deception and it has taken 26 years to get to the bottom of it. The BBC must be very clear about what it does next.’
Former Brexit minister Steve Baker said: ‘I hope this disgraceful, trust-shattering affair – which went all the way to the very top, to a future director general – is firmly in the past.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden suggested there could be drastic reforms to the BBC’s structure before its charter is renewed
‘If this sort of thing was still being done by the BBC very serious questions would have to be asked about its existence in its current form.’
Fellow Conservative backbencher Andrew Bridgen warned of ‘a further erosion of trust between the BBC and its increasingly dissatisfied licence fee payers’. He said the BBC ‘has power and authority but no proper accountability to anyone.
‘The BBC needs to go subscription and move into a proper management structure where they are accountable to their customers.’
Julian Knight, chairman of the culture committee, said: ‘This forensic report by Lord Dyson finally gets to the truth of the events behind the BBC Panorama interview.
‘It raises a number of unacceptable failings by the BBC in its internal investigation of the events behind the interview.’
In a tweet posted last night, Mr Dowden said: ‘Lord Dyson’s report reveals damning failings at the heart of the BBC
The comments came as a report from MPs found the BBC is ‘complacent’ in the face of declining audiences, with 200,000 people per year cancelling their licence fee.
The public accounts committee accused it of having ‘ducked the hard choices’ on cuts to frontline staff and said it was ‘unambitious’ about reform.
Meg Hillier, chairman of the cross-party committee, said: ‘Moving bits of this titanic organisation around the country, reorganising the deck chairs, just won’t cut it in the face of intense and rapidly changing global competition.’
The BBC said in a statement: ‘We do not feel that this report reflects the evidence or the facts provided to the committee. Our commitment to reform is beyond question.’