Bashir used deceit to win ‘three in a marriage’ interview with Princess Diana, inquiry rules

Image credit: Joe Hapt

RMC reporter

A judge-led inquiry has found that Martin Bashir, the BBC’s former religious affairs editor, acted in a deceitful way to gain access to Princess Diana, to get the explosive interview with her in 1995.

She spoke frankly: “There were three people in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”; that she felt she would never be queen but wanted to be queen of people’s hearts; and that she had been in love but let down.

One month later, the Queen suggested Prince Charles and Princess Diana should divorce.

The inquiry, commissioned by the BBC and led by retired judge Lord Dyson, said Bashir breached BBC rules by mocking up fake bank statements to gain access to the princess via her brother, Earl Spencer.  The documents claimed to show that royal officials were being paid by MI5 and the media for information about her.

The inquiry was prompted by Lord Spencer going public in the Daily Mail in November last year, giving them notes from his private meetings with Bashir in which the journalist outlined extraordinary stories against Diana.

These included unsubstantiated claims that her private correspondence was being opened, her car tracked and phone tapped, her nearest aides and friends plotting against her, and that her husband was having an affair with the nanny.

Lord Spencer told the Mail that he concluded Bashir was a fantasist, but Diana maintained her link with him, leading to the interview weeks later.

In a Panorama programme last night, Lord Spencer drew a link between the interview and Diana’s death two years later.

The BBC unreservedly apologised and admitted the report showed “clear failings” in that it had failed to get to the truth of what happened at the time. The inquiry found that the BBC’s own internal inquiry in 1996 was “woefully ineffective”.

Bashir has once more apologised for faking the bank documents, saying it was a stupid thing to do. But he insisted it had no bearing on Diana’s decision to be interviewed.

The inquiry published a handwritten letter from Diana saying she had no regrets about the interview and that Bashir had not shown her any documents nor given her any information that she was not previously aware of.

Martin Bashir resigned from his position last week on health grounds, after five years in the role and having suffered serious health issues in recent years.


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