LONDON — The BBC’s board of directors will have a retired senior judge lead an independent investigation into the circumstances around a 1995 TV interview with Princess Diana that the late royal’s brother says BBC journalist Martin Bashir got her to agree to by using forged statements and making false claims.
The announcement came after Charles Spencer renewed his assertions this month about how Bashir got the interview.
The investigation by former Supreme Court Judge John Dyson will look at whether the steps taken by the BBC and Bashir were appropriate and to what extent those actions influenced Diana’s decision to do the interview.
Charles Spencer has said that, in the weeks leading to the interview 25 years ago, Bashir made false and defamatory claims about senior royals to gain his trust and win access to his sister.
The claims included that Diana’s phone was bugged and that her bodyguard was plotting against her.
Spencer said Bashir showed him “false bank statements” purporting to show that two senior royal aides were being paid to keep Diana under surveillance, and he demanded an inquiry and an apology.
The BBC did an internal investigation when the complaints first surfaced and has said Bashir admitted commissioning mocked-up documents. But the British broadcaster has said the documents played no part in Diana’s decision to do the interview.
The 1995 interview featured Diana famously saying “there were three of us in this marriage” — referring to Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles. The interview was watched by millions of people and sent shockwaves through the monarchy.
Diana divorced Charles in 1996 and died in a Paris car crash in 1997 as she was pursued by paparazzi. Charles then married Camilla, now the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005.
The BBC said Bashir, 57, who is now its religion editor, is away from work on the advice of his doctors because he is recovering from heart surgery and complications related to contracting the coronavirus earlier this year.