The BBC fell short of “high standards of integrity and transparency” over Martin Bashir’s 1995 interview with Princess Diana, an inquiry has found.
Bashir acted in a “deceitful” way and faked documents to obtain the interview, the inquiry said.
And the BBC’s own internal probe in 1996 into what happened was “woefully ineffective”, it added.
The BBC and Bashir have both apologised, and the BBC has personally written to Princes William and Harry.
The corporation said the report showed “clear failings”, admitting it should have made more effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time.
As well as Diana’s sons, the BBC has also written personal apologies to Prince Charles and Diana’s brother Earl Spencer.
It is also returning all awards the interview received, including a TV Bafta won in 1996.
Lord Dyson – the retired judge who led the inquiry – found:
- Bashir seriously breached BBC rules by mocking up fake bank statements to gain access to the princess
- He showed the fake documents to Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, to gain his trust so he would introduce Bashir to Diana
- By gaining access to Diana in this way, Bashir was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview
- When the BBC carried out its own investigation into the tactics used to get the interview in 1996 – led by future BBC director general Lord Hall – it “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”
- A 1995 letter from Princess Diana – published as evidence – said she had “no regrets” concerning the matter
Princess Diana’s interview with Bashir for Panorama was a huge scoop for the BBC – in it, the princess famously said: “There were three of us in this marriage.”
It was the first time a serving royal had spoken so openly about life in the Royal Family – viewers saw her speak about her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, their affairs, and her bulimia.
Headline photo: Princess Diana & Martin Bashir