Princess Diana’s brother has claimed a former BBC boss personally “excluded” him from an inquiry into how journalist Martin Bashir secured his famous TV interview with his sister.
Charles Spencer said the corporation’s investigation into whether fake bank statements were used to help land the historic Panorama interview was a “whitewash” – and in explosive new tweets, he has labelled the BBC “incapable of honestly facing up to the ugly truth of this matter”.
He criticised former director-general Lord Hall personally, tweeting: “Lord Hall states he was ‘unaware’ of key forged documents shown to me by Panorama 25 years ago when he headed the BBC News inquiry into how Martin Bashir secured the interview.
“This is hardly surprising: Hall chose to exclude me from the enquiry.”
The BBC has promised a new investigation into Mr Bashir’s methods, following claims from some legal experts that a criminal offence may in fact have been committed.
Earl Spencer alleges Mr Bashir used fake documents in order to persuade Princess Diana that two of her senior courtiers were selling information about her to newspapers – and therefore her best course of redress was to speak out in an interview with him.
That face-to-face was watched by millions and contained the famous quote “there are three of us in this marriage” – a reference to Prince Charles’ relationship with the then Camilla Parker Bowles, now Duchess of Cornwall.
Lord Hall of Birkenhead, has told The Times he will co-operate with the new inquiry but claimed to be “unaware” of the alleged forged documents.
He said: “Of course the BBC should look at any new issues raised and speak to whoever they need to.”
And the BBC said in a statement sent to Sky News that it had previously apologised for the statements but that they “played no part” in Diana’s decision to take part in the interview.
It continued: “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.”
The corporation added that it was currently “hampered” by the fact Bashir was seriously ill and unable to discuss the claims.
Now the BBC News religion editor, Bashir, 57, is suffering from coronavirus complications.
Allegations about the forged documents first emerged in the weeks after the Panorama interview, prompting the 1996 internal BBC inquiry that effectively absolved Bashir.
But the scandal has been reopened by two television documentaries marking the 25th anniversary of the interview, which prompted Earl Spencer to write to current BBC director-general Tim Davie accusing Bashir of “yellow journalism”.