The BBC is expected to publish the investigation into the famous 1995 interview with Princess Diana this week, and the British broadcaster reports Thursday morning.
A former British Chief Justice has investigated how the relatively unknown interviewer Martin Bashir with Diana could come about. The BBC says it received the report on Friday 14 May. According to the British newspaper Daily Telegraph, the judge concluded that Bashir violated editorial guidelines to snare the interview.
Charles Spencer, the brother of the princess who died in 1997, urged an investigation. He states that the BBC would have tricked him into convincing his sister to participate in Panorama’s much-watched program. Bashir has shown him forged documents proving that members of the princess’s staff were paid to spy on her. As early as 1996, it became known that falsified bank statements had been used. Still, an internal BBC investigation at the time concluded that Bashir and the Panorama and BBC News editors had made no mistakes.
The new investigation would show that using the forged documents would violate editorial guidelines and that Bashir did act incorrectly in obtaining the interview. A former BBC board member tells The Telegraph newspaper that the use of falsified documents for factual programs is only allowed when investigating serious crimes, provided there is already some evidence that the interviewee is guilty. “Those circumstances certainly do not apply to an interview with the Princess of Wales,” said the former board member.
The interview, which aired in November 1995, attracted a record 22.8 million British viewers. Diana and Prince Charles split up shortly after the broadcast. The conversation was the breakthrough for Bashir.
The same day the BBC received the report, the broadcaster also announced Bashir’s departure. He has decided to stop working at the BBC a month before that announcement for health reasons.