Charles Spencer, brother of the princess who died in 1997, urged an investigation. He argues that the BBC would have tricked him into persuading his sister to take part in the much-watched panorama program. Bashir is said to have shown him false documents proving that members of the princess’s staff had been paid to spy on them. As early as 1996, it became known that fraudulent bank statements had been used, but an internal BBC investigation at the time concluded that the editors of Al-Bashir, Panorama and BBC News had made no mistakes.
The new investigation will show that the use of forged documents violated editorial guidelines and that Al-Bashir acted improperly in obtaining the interview. A former BBC board member told The Telegraph that the use of forged documents for factual programs is only permitted when investigating serious crimes, provided there is evidence that the person interviewed is guilty. “These circumstances definitely do not apply to an interview with the Princess of Wales,” said the former board member.
The interview, which aired in November 1995, attracted a record 22.8 million British viewers. Diana and Prince Charles separated shortly after the broadcast. The conversation was a breakthrough for Bashir.
On the same day the BBC received the report, the broadcaster also announced al-Bashir’s departure. A month before this announcement, he was to stop working for the BBC for health reasons.