Prince William issued a scathing statement about the BBC’s actions after an inquiry found the broadcaster covered up the journalist’s “deceitful behaviour” to secure his 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.
The duke expressed his “indescribable sadness” at the corporation’s failings, which he says “contributed significantly” to his mother’s state of mind in her final years.
An inquiry from Lord Dyson found Bashir was in “serious breach” of the BBC's producer guidelines when he faked bank statements and showed them to Earl Spencer, Diana's brother, to gain access to the princess in 1995.
In his full statement, Prince William said: “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.”
Calling for the interview never to be shown again, the 38-year-old added: “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.”
The BBC has written to the royal family to apologise for the circumstances surrounding the interview, in which Diana said: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”, a reference to Camilla Parker Bowles - who Charles later married.
Diana's brother Charles, Earl Spencer, has said he "draws a line" between the Panorama interview with his sister and her death two years later.
He told a Panorama programme on Thursday the consequences of the princess' decision to do the interview contributed to her death in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997.
Diana and her lover Dodi Fayed died when their car crashed in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel as they were being pursued by the paparazzi.
At the time of her death the princess had been divorced for a year after the final stages of her marriage break-up had become public.
Lord Dyson's report said: “By showing Earl Spencer the fake Waller and Jephson/Aylard statements and informing him of their contents, Mr Bashir deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana.
“By gaining access to Princess Diana in this way, Mr Bashir was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview.”
Additional reporting by PA
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