Why Lord Dyson ordered report on Martin Bashir’s 1995 interview with Princess of Wales
A report into how the BBC and it’s journalist, Martin Bashir, secured the 1995 Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales is expected to be published today.
The investigation has been conducted by Lord Dyson former Master of the Rolls and head of civil justice, and was previously referred to by Prince William as helping “establish the truth behind the actions”.
Princess Diana made unforgettable claims about her relationship with Prince Charles in the tell-all conversation, as well as explaining how she had self harmed and experienced bulimia.
The broadcaster itself has referred to the revelations made by Diana as “a huge scoop for the BBC”, but in 2020 it became apparent that Diana’s brother felt the interview only went ahead due to Bashir producing doctored or falsified documents relating to the royals.
Here is a timeline of events leading up to the investigation, what Bashir is accused of and a summary of what the late Princess of Wales said in the interview.
‘Three of us’
The interview was watched by more than 20 million people when it first aired in November 1995 and ultimately led to the Queen ordering Charles and Diana to divorce.
In the interview, Diana told Bashir she and Charles had both been unfaithful, and told of how Charles and Camilla had been having an affair for several years.
Diana said the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles made her feel worthless and when asked if Charles’ affair led to the breakdown of their marriage, she told Bashir there were “three of us in this marriage so it was a bit crowded”.
Diana went on to say she allowed her friends to leak information about her to author Andrew Morton, who wrote a book about the princess’ anguish in her marriage. She said she did so as “I was at the end of my tether. I was desperate,” adding that she wanted people to have a better understanding of her life.
The Princess also told how she had been bulimic and had self-harmed, blaming Charles for her low self-esteem and self destruction.
She told Bashir: “ I had bulimia for a number of years. And that's like a secret disease.
“You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don't think you're worthy or valuable.”
Asked why she made herself sick, she explained: “It was a symptom of what was going on in my marriage.
“I was crying out for help, but giving the wrong signals… people decided that was the problem, Diana was unstable.”
She also said the Prince of Wales might not “adapt to [being King]” because the role is “a bit more suffocating, and ...would bring enormous limitations to him.”
Shortly afterwards, the Queen wrote to Prince Charles and Princess Diana telling them to divorce.
Why is Bashir being investigated?
According to Earl Spencer, he was shown falsified bank statements by Bashir from members of the royal family’s accounts, which fed into Diana’s perception that Charles and his staff were conspiring against her.
It has been alleged that the doctored statements, produced by a BBC employed graphic artist, showed money being paid to one of the earl’s former staff to share information with the press.
Earl Spencer also claims he was told a number of lies by Bashir to gain the earl's confidence, so he would introduce Bashir to his sister.
The BBC claimed it has since found a handwritten note from Diana which would absolve Bashir of using false documents to influence her Panorama appearance.
A former employee of Earl Spencer, Alan Waller, has also made a formal complaint to the Metropolitan Police alleging unlawful activity.
The BBC is being investigated for covering up Bashir’s unethical behaviour in an internal investigation which took place in 1996.
A timeline of events leading to the investigation
Bashir joined the BBC in 1986 as a news correspondent and was known for his role as host of Songs Of Praise and Public Eye.
It was the Diana interview in 1995 which many argue made his career, with the scandalising claims and revelations about the private life of the royal family.
In 1996 the former BBC director-general Lord Hall, then head of news, led an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding Diana’s appearance on Panorama.
Her brother, Earl Spencer, has since referred to the internal review as a “whitewash”.
A year later, Diana died in a tragic car crash in Paris, along with her partner Dodi Fayed. The driver of the car, Henri Paul, survived.
Bashir left the BBC two years later, moving to ITV to work on documentary specials and features for Trevor McDonald. In 2016, he returned to the BBC as the religion correspondent and editor.
In October 2020, the BBC reported that Bashir was “seriously unwell” with Covid complication. The following month, Earl Spencer made fresh allegations that he was shown “false bank statements” which encouraged his sister to take part in Bashir’s interview.
An investigation was then launched into these claims, Lord Dyson was appointed to head the report and Diana’s sons, Harry and William, welcomed the new inquiry.
The Duke of Cambridge called it as a “step in the right direction”, later saying it would “help establish the truth behind the actions” which led to the programme.
In March, Scotland Yard said it will not launch a criminal investigation over the allegations and in May, Bashir left the BBC on medical grounds.
The report is due to be published on Thursday afternoon (20 May), and The Telegraph claims it will find Bashir used deceitful methods to acquire the interview.