Palace aides relieved at BBC ‘whitewash’ over Martin Bashir’s Diana interview
Palace courtiers decided “not to get involved” in a BBC probe into exactly how Martin Bashir got his interview with Princess Diana, a source claims.
The Mirror can reveal advisers to the Queen and Prince Charles hoped the internal investigation into Bashir and his team “would go away”, it is claimed.
Bashir was cleared of improper behaviour following the 1996 probe, which was headed by former director general Tony Hall when he was boss of BBC News and Current Affairs.
But Diana’s brother Earl Spencer has accused the BBC of “sheer dishonesty” and labelled the probe a “whitewash”.
One former staffer who worked for the Queen for around a decade said: “The BBC were particularly secretive about what they were doing or even what the allegations were but the palace was aware.
“A decision was taken not to get involved, in the hope it would go
away. There had been an almighty fallout internally and externally after
Bashir is alleged to have used a BBC graphic designer to create fake bank statements that he claimed was proof courtiers were being paid for details of Diana’s private life.
He also allegedly told the Princess that her phone was tapped by MI5, her bodyguard was plotting against her and that close friends were betraying her.
Diana’s brother Charles Spencer last week revealed notes he says he made at the time of meeting the reporter with his sister.
He claims that Bashir peddled lies to clinch his scoop, including lurid allegations about other members of the royal household. The Panorama programme in 1995 led to a furore that culminated in Charles divorcing the Princess of Wales.
Current director general Tim Davie has promised a new “independent” investigation, saying: “The BBC is taking this very seriously and we want to get to the truth.”
Dickie Arbiter, who was the Queen’s press secretary at the time, last week accused the BBC of lacking in transparency during the first probe.
He said: “We were unaware of what was going on within the BBC, it was kept behind closed doors.”
A former colleague of Bashir, who is the Beeb’s Religious Affairs correspondent, has claimed the BBC “protected him at all costs”.
In an ITV documentary last night and tonight at 9pm, Matt Wiessler, who claims he was told by Bashir to produce two fake bank statements, accused Lord Hall and other BBC bosses of making him the “fall guy” for Bashir’s alleged deception.
He is demanding an apology from the Corporation.
Former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond yesterday revealed how Diana told her she feared being “gagged” by the Royal Family.
Diana spoke to her in June 1995, five months before the Panorama interview, detailing her views on Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles.
She said: “What was in Panorama was largely known to me but she had asked me to keep it all in confidence.”
Courtiers for the Queen, Charles and Prince William are understood to be watching the allegations “with interest”.
Bashir, 57, who is said to be “seriously unwell” after a heart bypass and
Covid-19, was seen getting an Indian takeaway late last week.