Prime Minister Boris Johnson today waded into the row over the BBC’s infamous interview with Princess Diana, saying he was “obviously very concerned” about the findings of a new report.
The damning report by Lord Dyson, published yesterday, found the broadcaster had covered up the “deceitful” tactics used by reporter Martin Bashir in securing the 1995 interview.
It blasted the corporation’s handling of the incident and described its own investigation into the matter as “woefully ineffective”.
The prime minister today said he could “only imagine the feelings of the royal family”, adding: “I hope very much that the BBC will be taking every possible step to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”
It comes after culture secretary Oliver Dowden warned the government would consider further reform of the BBC as a result of the scandal.
The BBC will next year face a mid-term Charter review, during which the government looks at its governance and regulatory arrangements.
Ministers are also carrying out a review into the future of public service broadcasting in the UK amid changing viewer habits and the rise of streaming services such as Netflix.
Writing on Twitter, Dowden said: “We will now reflect on Lord Dyson’s thorough report and consider whether further governance reforms at the BBC are needed in the mid-term Charter review.
“I welcome the fact that the new leadership launched this independent inquiry and expect them to ensure that this can never happen again.”
The report, conducted by retired judge Lord Dyson, was set up to examine how Bashir and the BBC secured the bombshell Panorama interview, during which Diana famously said there were “three of us” in her marriage to Prince Charles.
It concluded that Bashir had “deceived and induced” Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, by showing him forged bank statements in order to secure the explosive sit-down.
Dyson described this as a “serious breach” of BBC guidelines on straight dealing. Bashir stepped down from his role as the BBC’s religion editor last week due to health issues.
But the report also pointed the finger at BBC bosses, including then-director general Lord Hall, for covering up what they knew about how Bashir obtained the interview and then failing to mention the controversy on any of its news programmes.
The report prompted Princes William and Harry to launch devastating attacks on the broadcaster.
William said that the interview made a “major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse”, while Harry said that the “ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices” led to his mother’s death.
BBC director general Tim Davie said the report had identified “clear failings” and offered a “full and unconditional apology”.
The broadcaster won a series of awards for the Panorama interview, including a Bafta for Bashir. It said it would relinquish these awards as a result of the report’s conclusions.