The BBC has been blasted over its handling of a 1995 interview of Diana after reporter Martin Bashir used “deceit” to gain access to the Princess of Wales.
A damning report into the incident, published today, concluded that the broadcaster had covered up the tactics used by the journalist to secure the interview.
It said an investigation carried out by the BBC was “woefully ineffective”, adding that the organisation “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”.
BBC director general Tim Davie said the report had identified “clear failings” and offered a “full and unconditional apology”.
“Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was keen on the idea of an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect. We are very sorry for this,” he said.
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.
In a statement today the BBC said that since 1995 it had made significant changes to its editorial guidelines and complaints process and introduced a whistleblowing scheme.
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.