Thursday 10 June 2021 4:34 pm

MPs to grill former BBC chiefs over Bashir’s Diana interview

MPs will next week grill two former director generals of the BBC in the wake of a scandal over Martin Bashir’s interview with Princess Diana.

Lord Hall and Lord Birt will be hauled in front of the culture select committee on 15 June to answer questions about the events leading up to the explosive 1995 interview.

They will also be grilled over the BBC’s handling of investigations into how reporter Bashir secured the scandalous sit-down.

It comes after a damning report, published last month, concluded that the broadcaster had covered up the “deceitful” tactics used by Bashir, including the use of faked bank statements to gain access to Diana.

The Dyson report also blasted the corporation’s handling of the incident and described its own investigation into the matter as “woefully ineffective”.

MPs on the committee will focus on the findings of the report and will also consider the BBC’s internal investigation carried out by Lord Hall in 1996, when he served as managing director of news and current affairs.

Lord Birt was director general at the time of the interview, while Hall led the corporation between 2013 and 2020.

Current director general Tim Davie and chairman Richard Sharp will also appear in front of the committee to address the implications of the report on the BBC today.

The public service broadcaster has apologised for the affair, with the board describing it as a “profoundly sobering period for us all”.

It has also pledged to carry out a review into its editorial policies and governance and present its findings by September.

The BBC has become embroiled in a backlash over the infamous Panorama scoop, during which Diana said there were “three of us” in her marriage to Prince Charles.

Bashir has stepped down as the BBC’s religion editor on health grounds, while Hall resigned as chair of the National Gallery.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has warned that the BBC must act fast to restore trust, adding that the government would not “stand idly by” in the wake of the row.