It’s been 25 years since Princess Diana’s explosive interview in which she told the world, “there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”. And now her brother, Charles Spencer, is calling for the BBC to investigate the “sheer dishonesty” he says was used to win the princess’s trust for the interview.
The “dishonesty” Earl Spencer talks about is a letter allegedly written by journalist Martin Bashir, who interviewed Princess Di for the BBC show Panorama.
Martin forged bank statements, the Earl says, which were
allegedly used to trick his sister into agreeing to the interview. And he wrote
about false rumours circulating about Prince Charles having an affair with
their children’s nanny, Tiggy Legge-Bourke.
The BBC journalist had also used forged bank statements to persuade her to talk, Charles says. The fake bank statements appeared to show that two senior royal staffers – Prince Charles and Di’s private secretaries – were being paid by the UK security services for information on Diana.
It was well known among Diana’s friends that she was paranoid about being watched by the security services.
The Panorama interview is still seen as having played a pivotal role in the final breakdown of Charles and Diana’s marriage. The royal couple, who had been estranged since 1991, began divorce proceedings a few weeks after it aired.
BBC director-general Tim Davie recently apologised for the
use of the fake bank statements but said they didn’t play a part in securing the
interview. The corporation also wouldn’t investigate the Earl’s claims, he
But Charles is demanding a formal inquiry, saying the BBC has “failed to accept the full gravity of this situation”.
“If it were not for me seeing these [bank] statements, I would not have introduced Bashir to my sister. In turn, he would have remained just one of thousands of journalists hoping that he/she had a tiny chance of getting her to speak to them, with no realistic prospect of doing so.”
He’s demanding an apology from the BBC, to his family and the public, and a posthumous apology to his sister for the alleged deception.
“The sheer dishonesty of what I’ve seen in the BBC 25 years ago, both in Bashir and his colleague’s actions in securing the interview, and the whitewash under [former BBC director] Tony Hall’s name, demands [an inquiry].”
The BBC, however, says Diana wrote a letter, which has since been mislaid, insisting she wasn’t misled.
“Our records show the focus of the BBC’s investigations
into these events was whether or not the Princess of Wales had been misled, and
they show that the BBC’s key piece of information was the handwritten statement
from the Princess of Wales, who said she hadn’t seen the mocked-up documents
and they had played no part in her decision to take part in the interview.
“None of this means the BBC won’t properly look at issues raised. If anyone has substantial new information they would like to share with us, we are encouraging them to do so. While Martin is unwell, however, we are unable to progress this further.”
Martin, who works for the BBC as its religion editor, has been ill after testing positive for Covid-19.
“We are sorry to say that Martin is seriously unwell with Covid-19-related complications,” a BBC spokesperson said. “Everyone at the BBC is wishing him a full recovery. We’d ask that his privacy, and that of his family, is respected at this time.”