The BBC has apologized after an independent investigation into journalist Martin Bashir's landmark interview with the late Diana, Princess of Wales, was obtained using "deceitful behavior." After a monthslong probe into how Bashir obtained the November 1995 interview in which Diana revealed husband Prince Charles' affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, the independent report released Thursday concluded that the journalist acted inappropriately and outside the publicly-funded network's editorial guidelines.
The interview, watched by more than 20 million people in the UK at the time, sent shockwaves through the royal family and the world with Diana's allusions about her marriage to Charles. Months later, the two would divorce, and after Diana's death in a car crash in August 1997, Charles would marry Bowles in 2005.
Bashir's interview tactics drew renewed scrutiny after the release of ITV's documentary The Diana Interview: Revenge of a Princess last November, which contained claims that Bashir had created fake bank statements to convince Diana the royal family was paying people to spy on her in an attempt to secure the interview. Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, lent credence to the report, tweeting on Nov. 8 that Bashir "used fake bank statements and other dishonesty to get my sister to do the interview." Spencer also claimed the BBC knew about the fakery and demanded an apology.
The BBC soon ordered an outside investigator to look into the interview. Thursday's report determined that Bashir did commission false bank statements from a graphic designer to show to Diana's younger brother to convince him to arrange a meeting with Diana and Bashir. The journalist said in a statement, as per NBC, that asking for those "mocked up" statements was "a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret."
"I also reiterate that the bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview," he added. "Evidence handed to the inquiry in her own handwriting (and published alongside the report today) unequivocally confirms this, and other compelling evidence presented to Lord Dyson reinforces it. In fact, despite his other findings, Lord Dyson himself, in any event, accepts that the Princess would probably have agreed to be interviewed without what he describes as my 'intervention'." BBC Director-General Tim Davie apologized in another statement, saying it was "clear that the process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect."