After an investigation discovered that a photographer for the broadcaster deceptively secured an interview with Princess Diana in 1995, Britain’s Prince William accused the BBC of failing his mother and poisoning her relationship with Prince Charles.
An investigation revealed that BBC journalist Martin Bashir used manipulation to secure a dramatic 1995 interview with Diana, in which she exposed personal aspects of her failed marriage to Charles, and that the broadcaster covered up the fraud.
During the Panorama interview, watched by more than 20 million viewers in Britain, Diana shocked the nation by admitting to an affair and sharing details of her marriage to the heir to the throne and William’s father, Prince Charles.
Diana, 36, died in a Paris car crash in 1997.
“It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others,” William, 38, said in a statement.
“It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.”
“LET MY MOTHER DOWN”
The BBC set up the investigation, headed by former senior judge John Dyson, in November following allegations from Diana’s brother Charles Spencer that he had been tricked into introducing her to Bashir.
Dyson’s report found that Bashir, then a little-known reporter, had shown Spencer fake bank statements suggesting that Diana was being bugged by the security services and that two senior aides were being paid to provide information about her.
According to the paper, Bashir consistently lied to his superiors about how the interview was obtained after it aired. As the questions persisted, BBC executives refused to adequately scrutinise Bashir’s account of events and covered up details about how Bashir obtained the interview.
The investigation concluded that the BBC has fallen short of the “high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark,” and the corporation also apologised in writing to Buckingham Palace.
Bashir apologised for the false claims, but said he stood by his facts from 25 years earlier and didn’t think they influenced Diana to give the interview.
William said that the BBC should have properly investigated when concerns were first raised in 1995.
“(Diana) was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions,” he said.
“These failings, identified by investigative journalists, not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too.”