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The BBC used “deceitful behavior” to get Princess Diana to agree to her bombshell 1995 interview about cheating in her royal marriage, an investigation has found.
The probe was ordered by the broadcaster in November following a formal complaint by the late princess’ brother, Charles Spencer, that he had been tricked into introducing her to star journalist Martin Bashir.
Spencer said Bashir — who quit the BBC last week — used fake bank documents and lied about Lady Di being bugged by security services to get the 1995 interview that was watched by more than 23 million people.
“Mr. Bashir deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana,” the investigation, headed by former senior judge John Dyson, concluded.
“Mr. Bashir acted inappropriately and in serious breach of the 1993 edition of the Producers’ Guidelines on straight dealing.”
The interview proved to be the biggest blow to the monarchy in years as Diana discussed how “there were three of us in this marriage,” referring to husband Prince Charles and his now-wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles.
After the episode was aired, Bashir repeatedly lied to his bosses about how the interview was obtained, the report said. As questions continued, BBC managers covered up facts about how the interview was secured.
“Without justification, the BBC fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark,” the report said.
The BBC’s chairman, Richard Sharp, said the corporation accepts the investigation’s findings, adding “there were unacceptable failures.”
John Birt, director-general of the BBC at the time of the interview, which was aired on the “Panorama” news program, apologized to Charles Spencer in a statement.
“We now know that the BBC harbored a rogue reporter on Panorama who fabricated an elaborate, detailed but wholly false account of his dealings with Earl Spencer and Princess Diana,” he said.
“This is a shocking blot on the BBC’s enduring commitment to honest journalism; and it is a matter of the greatest regret that it has taken 25 years for the full truth to emerge.”
Diana’s former private secretary, Patrick Jephson, praised Earl Spencer and “the tenacious journalists who brought the story to light” in first exposing the trickery.
“After so many years it is a relief to know more of the truth behind events which had so many unhappy and even tragic consequences,” he said in a statement.
“I also acknowledge the BBC’s full apology which I received from the Director General this afternoon,” he said.
Diana divorced Charles in 1996 and died in a Paris car crash in 1997. Charles married Camilla, now the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005.
Diana’s sons with Charles, Prince Harry and Prince William, were said to be united in supporting the inquiry into the interview despite their now-famous feud.
The interview made a star of Bashir, who went on to other high-profile assignments, including a special with Michael Jackson watched around the world.
He left the corporation last week, citing health reasons — just hours before the investigation report was handed in to his long-term employer.
He has been seriously unwell with COVID-19-related complications, the company has said.
With Post wires
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