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Earl Spencer hopes Diana would be ‘pleased the truth is out’ over BBC interview

·5-min read

Earl Spencer has said he hopes his sister Diana, Princess of Wales would be pleased “the truth is out to the context” regarding her explosive 1995 interview with the BBC’s Panorama programme conducted by Martin Bashir.

His comments follow the publication of a scathing report by Lord Dyson last month which concluded that the broadcaster covered up “deceitful behaviour” used by Bashir to secure the headline-making interview in which the princess famously said “there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”.

Watch: Bashir's "fantasy" fed Diana's fear, says Andrew Morton

On Monday a subsequent review into the decision to re-hire Bashir as the religious affairs correspondent in 2016, commissioned by the BBC and conducted by Ken MacQuarrie, said it found “no evidence” the journalist was given the job to “contain and/or cover” up the events surrounding the Panorama programme.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Charles Spencer said: “I hope she’d be pleased the truth is out to the context. She was taken into a very dark place, as you saw in that report, William referred to you know, her paranoia was fed…”

Lord Dyson’s report found that Bashir was in “serious breach” of the BBC’s producer guidelines when he faked bank statements and showed them to Earl Spencer to gain access to his sister for the interview.

Both the Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex issued strongly worded statements following the Dyson report in May.

Diana, Princess of Wales Panorama interview
Diana, Princess of Wales during her interview with Martin Bashir for the BBC in 1995 (BBC screengrab/PA)

In his rebuke of the BBC, William said it brought “indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.

“But what saddens me most is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived.

“She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.”

ITV Palooza 2019 – London
Martin Bashir (PA)

Earl Spencer added that he would have been “fully supportive” if his sister had wanted to give an interview, but told Good Morning Britain: “I’ve got no problem at all. I’d have been 100% supportive if she’d chosen to speak to anyone, it (was) absolutely her entitlement.

“But the circumstances in which she was duped into speaking, that set the tone for the conversation and that’s unforgivable, especially coming from the BBC. I’m sorry that they’re held to a higher standard than others, but you know, you do expect them to play it straight.”

William and Harry are due to unveil a statue of their late mother, who was killed in a car crash in 1997, on July 1, which would have been Diana’s 60th birthday.

Earl Spencer said: “I remember my father always used to talk about the day Diana was born actually, July 1 1961, and it was a sweltering hot day and this wonderful daughter appeared… and so it’s funny to be of an age now where your slightly older sister is 60 but yes, it will be an emotional day but you know, I think it’ll be a tribute to a much-missed and much-loved sister, mother…”

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The BBC said in a statement following the Dyson report that it accepted the “findings in full”, with the corporation’s director-general Tim Davie saying: “While today’s BBC has significantly better processes and procedures, those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview being secured in this way.

“The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew.

“While the BBC cannot turn back the clock after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology. The BBC offers that today.”

In an interview with The Sunday Times last month, Bashir said he “never wanted to harm” Diana with the Panorama interview, adding: “I don’t believe we did.”

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He maintained Diana was never unhappy about the content of the interview and said they continued to be friends after the broadcast, with the princess even visiting his wife Deborah at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, on the day Deborah gave birth to the couple’s third child, Eliza.

Bashir said he was “deeply sorry” to the dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, but disputed William’s charge that he fuelled her isolation and paranoia.

He told the publication: “Even in the early 1990s, there were stories and secretly recorded phone calls. I wasn’t the source of any of that.”

Former BBC director-generals Lord Tony Hall and Lord John Birt will be questioned by MPs on June 15 about events leading up to Bashir’s Panorama interview.

Current BBC director-general Mr Davie and chairman Richard Sharp will also appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee to give evidence on the implications of Lord Dyson’s conclusions.

Watch: 'No evidence' journalist was rehired by BBC in cover-up over Princess Diana interview, review finds

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