Prince William: Panorama interview ‘holds no legitimacy’
When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. Our Privacy Notice explains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.
He spoke of his “indescribable sadness” that documents faked by Panorama’s Martin Bashir persuaded Diana to reveal her marriage strife. The furious Prince accused BBC chiefs of a “cover-up” over the shamed newsman’s “lurid and false claims about the Royal Family”. William, 38, demanded the 1995 programme is never shown again and said the BBC’s failings “not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too”.
He claimed that the broadcaster’s “deceit” contributed to Princess Diana’s fear, paranoia and isolation in her final years. She died in a car crash two years after the interview aired.
Prince Harry echoed his brother’s condemnation of the BBC last night, saying: “The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life.”
William said if BBC bosses had investigated properly the complaints that were raised after Bashir’s bombshell chat his mother would have been aware she had been “deceived”.
His attack came shortly after former judge Lord Dyson published the results of his investigation into the scandal.
Prince William said: “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.
“It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember.
“She 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 added: “It is my firm view that this Panorama programme holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again.
“In an era of fake news, public service broadcasting and a free press have never been more important. These failings [by the BBC], identified by investigative journalists, not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too.”
BBC chiefs yesterday made a grovelling apology to the princes.
Senior management also wrote to their father Prince Charles and to the Queen as Lord Dyson’s long-awaited report exposed a web of lies spun to trick Diana into talking about her marriage breakdown. Lord Dyson condemned Bashir for using faked bank statements to persuade her to co-operate.
The ex-Master of the Rolls said the star interviewer was in “serious breach” of BBC guidelines and “fell short of high standards of integrity and transparency”. He also condemned BBC management for a “woefully ineffective” internal inquiry which failed to see through Bashir’s lies.
The corporation also apologised to Diana’s brother Earl Spencer, who brought Bashir down by describing how he was shown bogus papers. In what was called the BBC’s darkest day since the Jimmy Savile scandal, programme makers returned awards including a Bafta that the show won.
Julian Knight MP, chairman of the Commons culture committee, accused the BBC of “unacceptable failings” and vowed to scrutinise its response.
He added: “This forensic report…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. I welcome the full acceptance of the findings by the BBC.”
The report said Bashir commissioned faked papers which suggested royal aides were being paid to keep Diana under surveillance.
They purported to show payments into the bank accounts of a security adviser to Earl Spencer, Diana’s private secretary Commander Patrick Jephson and Commander Richard Aylard, Prince Charles’ private secretary. A handwritten note from Diana on Kensington Palace notepaper, which was part of the evidence, said Bashir did not show her any documents.
She wrote that she took part in the interview “without any undue pressure” and had “no regrets”. But Lord Dyson said that although Diana did not see the fakes, Bashir used them to persuade her brother she should do the interview.
“Mr Bashir deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana,” he said. “By gaining access to Princess Diana in this way, Mr Bashir was able to persuade her.”
He said a 1996 inquiry into the making of the programme, overseen by then BBC Director-General Lord Tony Hall, was not sufficiently thorough.
It “did not scrutinise Mr Bashir’s account with the necessary degree of scepticism and caution” despite him having “lied three times” about the bogus statements.
Dyson said Bashir was “unable or unwilling” to explain why he commissioned the fakes and the team did not speak to Earl Spencer – who later told Lord Dyson that Bashir “duped” him.
He did not receive proof – released by the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act – until last year. Cmdr Jephson said yesterday: “It is a relief to know more of the truth behind events which had so many unhappy and even tragic consequences.”
Lord Birt, director-general at the time of the interview, said: “We now know that the BBC harboured a rogue reporter on Panorama who fabricated an elaborate, detailed but wholly false account of his dealings with Earl Spencer and Princess Diana. This is a shocking blot on the BBC’s enduring commitment to honest journalism.
“I offer my deep apologies to Earl Spencer and to all others affected.”
Lord Hall apologised for taking Bashir’s word: “Our investigation…fell well short of what was required.
“There were further steps we could and should have taken. I was wrong to give Martin Bashir the benefit of the doubt, basing that judgment as I did on what appeared to be deep remorse.”
Current director-general Tim Davie said: “There are multiple failures for the BBC to reflect on 25 years ago, but still, they’re very, very serious” and chairman, Richard Sharp, said the BBC board “unreservedly accepts” the report.
A BBC statement claimed it is a “very different” organisation to when the interview was aired and “significant changes” have been made to editorial guidelines.
Bashir defiant despite his lies
Martin Bashir issued a self-serving apology for the fakery used to con Princess Diana into baring her soul on TV.
The 58-year-old dismissed his treachery as a “single issue” that “has been allowed to overshadow” something he is “immensely proud of”.
He said mocking-up bank documents to manipulate Diana was a “stupid thing to do which I deeply regret”.
But he said: “I absolutely stand by the evidence I gave a quarter of a century ago, and again more recently.”
He said the statements – said to have been used to persuade Diana’s brother Earl Spencer to back his project – had “no bearing” on the princess’s decision to take part.
He said: “In fact, despite his other findings, Lord Dyson himself accepts that the princess would probably have agreed to be interviewed without what he describes as my ‘intervention’.”
Bashir, who quit as the BBC’s religion editor on the day the inquiry ended, said he helped Diana smash the mental health stigma.
He said: “She led the way in addressing so many of these issues and that’s why I will always remain immensely proud of that interview.”
Bashir added: “This is the second time that I have willingly fully co-operated with an investigation into events more than 25 years ago.
“I apologised then, and I do so again now, over the fact that I asked for bank statements to be mocked up.”
Prince William’s statement in full
I would like to thank Lord Dyson and his team for the report.
It is welcome that the BBC accepts Lord Dyson’s findings in full – which are extremely concerning – that BBC employees:
* Lied and used fake documents to obtain the interview with my mother;
* Made lurid and false claims about the Royal Family which played on her fears and fuelled paranoia;
* Displayed woeful incompetence when investigating complaints and concerns about the programme and;
* Were evasive in their reporting to the media and covered up what they knew from their internal investigation.
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.
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.
But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived.
She 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.
It is my firm view that this Panorama programme holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again. It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialised by the BBC and others.
This settled narrative now needs to be addressed by the BBC and anyone else who has written or intends to write about these events.
In an era of fake news, public service broadcasting and a free press have never been more important.
These failings, identified by investigative journalists, not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too.
Martin Bashir: 'Blood has been thrown into water' says expert
Analysis by Phil Dampier
The bombshell official BBC report into the way Martin Bashir conned Princess Diana to obtain his Panorama interview is clearly very upsetting for both of her sons, William and Harry.
As they try and heal some of the bad blood between them before the unveiling of a Diana statue to mark what would have been her 60th birthday in July, they will be left with nagging doubts.
Did Bashir’s claims that Diana was being spied on make her paranoid and lead to her decision to get rid of her Scotland Yard bodyguards?
Her former minder Inspector Ken Wharfe has often said Diana would still be alive today if she hadn’t dropped her police protection.
They would never have allowed her to get in a car with a drunk driver and not wear a seat belt.
In 2003 William and Harry issued a statement attacking Diana’s butler Paul Burrell for his “cold and overt betrayal” of their mother, by writing books and articles.
They said it was “deeply painful” for them, and Diana herself would have been mortified.
Now they will feel a similar sense of anger at Bashir’s betrayal.
Diana and Prince Charles separated in 1992 but it was after the Panorama interview in 1995 that the Queen decided enough was enough and the couple had to divorce.
Diana had embarked on a string of careless affairs, including with married men, before she had her “summer fling” with Dodi Fayed.
By the time she died in 1997 she wasn’t speaking to her mother, her former sister-in-law and friend Fergie. The truth is that although we put Diana on a pedestal because of her tragic death at just 36, she was deeply flawed and, to an extent, mentally unstable.
She would cut people out of her life for the tiniest imagined slight, and much of her insecurity dated from her troubled childhood and her parents’ divorce.
Prince Harry currently wants to highlight mental health, and he talks about what happened to his mother as if the press and the Royal family killed her.
But many of her problems were of her own making, and Bashir’s ruthless lies fed her dark side.
She needed help, not to go on television and damage herself, Charles, their children and the monarchy by washing dirty linen in public.
By admitting her affair with James Hewitt and referring to “three of us in the marriage” – citing Charles’s infidelity with then mistress Camilla Parker Bowles – she made an already sad mess a lot worse.
She later admitted she regretted the interview.
The irony now is that Harry seems to have learnt nothing from what happened in the 1990s.
Big sit down interviews normally end in tears for the royals.
So why did he do one with Oprah Winfrey?
Phil Dampier is a royal author
Source: Read Full Article