Martin Bashir braces for damning report into Princess Diana scandal as BBC chiefs are warned they face criticism over the infamous Panorama interview
- Martin Bashir interviewed Princess Diana in 1995 for the BBC Panorama show
- He is accused of spinning a web of deceit to land the exclusive interview
- A review into the interview has been completed by ex-judge Lord Dyson
- The report is due to be released by the BBC on Thursday morning
It is understood that ex-director general Lord Hall is among those given advance notice of ‘uncomfortable’ findings.
Panorama reporter Bashir, who has been accused of spinning a web of deceit to land his 1995 interview with Diana, is also braced for a harsh judgment. He is said to be ‘very worried’ about ex-judge Lord Dyson’s conclusions following an independent investigation ordered by the BBC.
Former BBC Panorama journalist Martin Bashir, pictured, is bracing himself for criticism ahead of a review into his 1995 interview with Princess Diana
Panorama reporter Bashir, who has been accused of spinning a web of deceit to land his 1995 interview with Diana
The former Master of the Rolls delivered his report last Friday – six months after the scandal was exposed by the Daily Mail in November 2020.
Diana’s brother Earl Spencer revealed shocking claims that Bashir peddled an extraordinary parade of lies to him and the princess to land his historic scoop. The BBC has already apologised for Bashir faking bank statements, which he allegedly used to gain the earl’s trust and clinch an introduction to Diana.
Earl Spencer said a series of preposterous royal smears followed – designed to lure the vulnerable princess.
They included Bashir telling Diana he had proof her loyal staff were betraying her to the security services and newspapers. Lord Dyson was tasked with probing an alleged cover-up mounted by BBC chiefs after the fake bank statements were exposed by The Mail on Sunday in 1996.
He was also appointed to answer the key question of whether Diana’s decision to grant the bombshell interview was influenced by Bashir’s methods. During the interview she famously declared ‘there were three of us in this marriage’ – referring to Prince Charles’s ongoing relationship with his now wife Camilla.
In April 1996, Tony Hall, pictured, then head of news and current affairs, probed claims Bashir used fake documents to obtain his scoop. But his internal inquiry was derided by some as a ‘whitewash’
Bashir, 58, who has had a quadruple heart bypass and battled a severe bout of Covid, quit as BBC religion editor last month.
He and Lord Hall are understood to have received letters from the Dyson investigation warning them they may face criticism – giving them the chance to respond before publication. The Mail has been told other former BBC top brass received similar letters.
In April 1996, Tony Hall, then head of news and current affairs, probed claims Bashir used fake documents to obtain his scoop. But his internal inquiry was derided by some as a ‘whitewash’.
A former Panorama source branded the investigation ‘laughable’, saying: ‘He just had a little chat with Bashir.’
Lord Hall’s probe concluded ‘there had been no question of Mr Bashir trying to mislead or do anything improper’. It stressed the reporter was an ‘honest man’. Tim Suter, who was managing editor of current affairs, and Tim Gardam, former head of weekly programmes, are also understood to have been sent Dyson letters.
The report is due to be released by the BBC tomorrow morning. In the evening, at 7pm, it is screening a Panorama special on the scandal – in effect, the flagship current affairs show investigating itself.
Veteran reporter John Ware spent five months examining the interview, cover-up and Bashir’s career.
The Mail made requests for comment from Bashir, Lord Hall, Mr Suter and Mr Gardam but they did not reply.
The rogue reporter, his editor and an ex-director general
Martin Bashir: He has been accused of lying to Princess Diana and peddling falsehoods to families involved in high-profile news stories to gain interviews over two decades. Bashir quit as BBC religion editor last month.
Lord Hall: As head of news and current affairs, Tony Hall conducted a 1996 inquiry into claims of faked documents but it was dubbed a ‘whitewash’. It is unclear who he interviewed apart from Bashir. Lord Hall, who stepped down as BBC director general last summer, is now chairman of the board of trustees at the National Gallery.
Steve Hewlett: Bashir’s Panorama editor gave him free rein to pursue the interview with Diana and allegedly covered up his dodgy methods. He reportedly told colleagues concerned at stories of fake documents that he did not see why it was ‘any of your f****** business’. Mr Hewlett went on to host The Media Show on Radio 4 and died of cancer in 2017 at the age of 58.