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William: Investigation into BBC Panorama interview with Diana ‘step in the right direction’

Written by on 18 November 2020

Prince William has said he welcomes a new investigation into the BBC’s 1995 Panorama interview with his mother, Princess Diana.

The independent inquiry will be led by Lord Dyson, a former Master of the Rolls and head of civil justice, and is to begin straight away.

The investigation will seek to discover how the corporation and journalist Martin Bashir got the scoop.

In a statement, Kensington Palace said the Duke of Cambridge has tentatively welcomed the investigation, saying: “The independent investigation is a step in the right direction.

Prince William has welcomed an investigation into the BBC Panorama interview

“It should help establish the truth behind the actions that led to the Panorama interview and subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time.”

Revelations from the interview included Diana describing Camilla Parker Bowles as the “third person” in her marriage and her admission of infidelity with army captain James Hewitt and her doubts over Prince Charles’s suitability to be king.

It was watched by 23 million people at the time and sent shockwaves through the monarchy.

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The steps Bashir took to obtain access to Princess Diana will be looked as part of the probe.

There has been controversy over counterfeit bank statements which were alleged to have been used to persuade the princess to take part in the interview, since shortly after the programme first aired.

Revelations included ‘three people’ being in the royal marriage

The documents are alleged to have been used to falsely show payments were made to members of royal staff in exchange for information about the princess.

Diana’s younger brother Earl Spencer has said he was shown the documents and went on to connect his sister with Bashir – something the earl says he would not have done had he not been misled.

Princess Diana's brother Earl Charles Spencer announces a Diana exhibit in downtown Toronto.…
Earl Spencer has been critical of the BBC

As well as demanding an independent inquiry, he has also requested a posthumous apology to his sister and a donation to charities set up in her memory.

Just last week, a note written by Diana stating that false bank statements had no role in her decision to speak on camera, was found by the BBC, which had initially said the handwritten letter was no longer in its possession.

The independent investigation will also look into an internal BBC inquiry in 1996 led by then head of news Tony Hall.

That inquiry is understood to have found that Bashir, who the BBC says is seriously unwell with COVID-19, had “done wrong”, but it is not known what sanction, if any, he faced.

Who is Martin Bashir?

Who is Martin Bashir?

All about the BBC journalist at the heart of the Princess Diana interview scandal.

Speaking about the new investigation, director-general of the BBC, Tim Davie, said the corporation is “determined to get to the truth”, calling Lord Dyson “an eminent and highly respected figure who will lead a thorough process”.

Lord Dyson has said he will ensure the “important investigation” is “both thorough and fair”.

Diana and Charles divorced in 1996 – the year after the interview, and the princess was killed in a car crash in Paris the following year.

The BBC will publish the report of the investigation at its conclusion.