BBC apologises to Princess Diana’s brother over lie to secure Panorama interview

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The BBC 's director-general has apologised to the brother of Princess Diana over the use of fake bank statements to help secure her famous Panorama interview.

Tim Davie wrote to Earl Spencer but declined to open a probe into allegations underhand methods were deployed by Beeb journalist Martin Bashir to trick the royal into the TV grilling 25 years ago.

In the explosive interview – which attracted 23 million viewers – Diana said of her then-husband Prince Charles and his now-wife Camilla: "There were three of us in this marriage so it was a bit crowded.''

Charles and Di started divorce proceedings within weeks.

The interview was the TV presenter's big break and helped him secure unprecedented access to pop star Michael Jackson for a subsequent documentary.

But his TV showdown with Diana has come under scrutiny amid allegations subterfuge was used to obtain it.

Earl Spencer, 56, reportedly told Mr Davie he has records of two meetings with Mr Bashir in 1995 revealing the presenter told fantastical stories to win Diana's trust and used bogus bank documents to gain access to her.

The presenter allegedly told the earl his sister was under security service surveillance and high-profile figures in royal circles were spying on her.

Mr Bashir then presented him with fake bank statements purporting to show an ex-employee of the earl's was leaking stories to the press and passing information to the security services.

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Earl Spencer was said to be so alarmed he agreed to introduce Mr Bashir to Diana culminating in the TV interview six weeks later.

A source said the fake statements had been vital to Mr Bashir winning the earl's confidence to secure a meeting with his sister.

The BBC has admitted Mr Bashir showed the earl bank documents created by one of the corporation's graphic designers.

The allegations were the focus of last month's Channel 4 documentary Diana: The Truth Behind The Interview.

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But Earl Spencer had not been spoken to then. A document released under freedom of information laws revealed while Mr Bashir was defended by the Beeb steps were taken to ensure the graphic designer who drew up the bank statements did `not work for the BBC again'.

An internal BBC probe into the claims at the time found `there had been no question of Bashir trying to mislead or do anything improper with the document' and the presenter was `an honest man'.

Mr Bashir, 57, who is now the BBC's religious affairs correspondent, was said by the broadcaster to be `unwell' after suffering Covid-related complications.

The BBC said: "Suggesting that mocked-up documents were genuine was wrong then and it's wrong now.

"The BBC of today is happy to apologise for this. This would not happen today.''

  • Princess Diana
  • Royal Family
  • BBC
  • Prince Charles

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