Princess Diana's brother says BBC is not facing up to 'ugly truth' of Panorama interview

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3 min read

Watch: Princess Diana’s Panorama interview with Martin Bashir

The brother of the late Princess Diana insists the BBC has not apologised to him over forged bank statements which he says led to their landmark Panorama interview with her in 1995.

Charles Spencer claimed on Tuesday that Martin Bashir, who carried out the bombshell interview with the late princess 25 years ago, presented him with faked bank statements which led him to believe former members of staff were paid informants.

The BBC has previously acknowledged the existence of the statements but says that they did not make a difference to Diana’s decision to carry out the interview.

However her brother insists he would not have introduced Bashir to Diana without seeing those statements.

On Wednesday he tweeted: “In today’s @thetimes Lord Hall states he was ‘unaware’ of key forged documents shown to me by @BBCPanorama 25 years ago when he headed the @BBCNews enquiry into how @MartinBashir secured the interview. This is hardly surprising: Hall chose to exclude me from the enquiry.

“Answering the key question - why I was deliberately excluded from the enquiry (one I wasn’t even aware was being conducted) - has to be a part of an independent enquiry. The BBC has shown itself incapable of honestly facing up to the ugly truth of this matter.”

He added: “When the @BBC say they’ve ‘apologised’ to me, what they’ve apologised for is showing me false bank statements relating to a lesser, unrelated, matter. They haven’t apologised for the fake bank statements and other deceit that led to me introducing @MartinBashir to my sister.”

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 26:  The 9th Earl Spencer Charles Spencer attends the Whole Child International's inaugural gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on October 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Paul Archuleta/WireImage)
Charles Spencer, here in 2017, is insistent that he has not received a full apology from the BBC. (Paul Archuleta/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 28: Martin Bashir attends the Pride Of Britain Awards 2019 at The Grosvenor House Hotel on October 28, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Martin Bashir, here in 2019, is unwell and unable to help any BBC investigation. (Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Diana’s Panorama appearance in 1995 was given after her then-husband, Prince Charles, confessed to adultery in a televised interview with his biographer Jonathan Dimbleby.

He told the journalist he only turned to Camilla, now his wife, after his marriage to Diana had broken down irretrievably.

Diana made her famous “there were three of us in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded” statement in the BBC interview, which set a record on viewer figures.

How Bashir, then relatively unknown, managed to secure the interview was questioned, but a 1996 BBC investigation cleared him of any misconduct.

A statement made in 1996 by the BBC said: “It wasn’t a very good idea to have these documents made, and Mr Bashir accepts that. But we have confirmed that in no way were the documents used to gain the interview with Princess Diana.”

The BBC also says they had a note from Diana, which has since been lost, which show she did not see the statements.

Read more: Prince Charles 'had to be convinced' to give second interview in which he admitted to cheating on Diana

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 21:  Princess Diana Kissing Her Brother, Viscount Althorp (later To Become Earl Spencer) At The Birthright Red Ball In London Raising Funds For The Charity Birthright Of Which She Is Patron  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Diana with her brother. He says he would never have introduced her to Martin Bashir without the statements. (Tim Graham Photo Library)

The dispute between Earl Spencer and the BBC began in October when Channel 4 revealed the forged bank statements in a documentary made to mark 25 years since the interview.

Following the programme, Earl Spencer wrote to the BBC to call for another inquiry and said the organisation had not grasped “the full gravity of this situation”.

On Tuesday, a BBC spokeswoman said: “The BBC has apologised. We are happy to repeat that apology. And while this was a quarter of a century ago, we absolutely will investigate – robustly and fairly – substantive new information.

“We have asked Earl Spencer to share further information with the BBC.

“Unfortunately, we are hampered at the moment by the simple fact that we are unable to discuss any of this with Martin Bashir, as he is seriously unwell. When he is well, we will of course hold an investigation into these new issues.”

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