In Brief

BBC to investigate Princess Diana 1995 tell-all interview

Martin Bashir accused of using faked bank statements to secure the Panorama chat

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The BBC is launching an inquiry into Earl Spencer’s claim that journalist Martin Bashir used fake bank statements to land his infamous Panorama interview with Princess Diana, the broadcaster has announced.

In what the Daily Mail describes as a “humiliating U-turn”, a BBC spokesperson said that while the televised chat took place back in 1995 - two years before the princess died in a car crash - “we absolutely will investigate, robustly and fairly, substantive new information”.

The BBC has asked Earl Charles Spencer to “share further information” relating to Bashir’s interview, in which Diana famously said there were “three of us in this marriage”. However, Spencer has refused to cooperate with the inquiry, insisting that he wants an independent probe instead.

Diana’s brother has previously dismissed an internal inquiry conducted by the BBC in 1996, after the forgery allegations first emerged, as a “whitewash”.

The scandal has been reignited by “two television documentaries marking the 25th anniversary of the interview” that included evidence from a freelance graphic designer who allegedly made the fake bank statements, The Times reports.

In what Spencer claims was an act of “yellow journalism” - a term for sensationalist and unethical reporting - Bashir is alleged to have won Diana’s trust through “sheer dishonesty” using the documents, which “entirely wrongly, purported to show that two senior courtiers were being paid by the security services for information” about her, says The Guardian.

New BBC director-general Tim Davie has apologised for the use of fake bank statements. But the broadcaster says that the key piece of information in the original inquiry was a handwritten statement in which Diana “said she had not seen the mocked-up documents and that they had played no part in her decision to take part in the interview”, The Times reports. 

Bashir is currently seriously ill with Covid-19 but the BBC has promised to launch the new probe into the interview - watched by 23 million people when it was first broadcast - after he has recovered. 

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