The U.K.’s Prince William took the unusual step of attacking the British Broadcasting Corporation over its handling of a 1995 interview with his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, by reporter Martin Bashir.
An inquiry published on Thursday found Bashir used fake documents to gain access to the princess and secure the bombshell “Panorama” interview at the public broadcaster.
In the interview, Princess Diana admitted she had had an affair and she revealed other details of her marriage. She died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.
In a broadcast statement, Prince William, second in the line of succession to the British throne, said: “It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others.”
The interview was the highlight of Bashir’s career and he went on to make a documentary about pop singer Michael Jackson, called “Living With Michael Jackson.” He also worked in the U.S. as co-anchor of the current affairs show “Nightline” on ABC before moving to MSNBC.
The BBC’s director-general, Tim Davie, said: “Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was keen on the idea of an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect.
“We are very sorry for this.”
Prince William’s statement in full, transcribed by The Times of London
“I would like to thank Lord Dyson and his team for the report.
It is welcome that the BBC accepts Lord Dyson’s findings in full — which are extremely concerning — that BBC employees:
● lied and used fake documents to obtain the interview with my mother;
● made lurid and false claims about the royal family which played on her fears and fuelled paranoia;
● displayed woeful incompetence when investigating complaints and concerns about the programme; and
● were evasive in their reporting to the media and covered up what they knew from their internal investigation.
It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others.
It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.
But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived. She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.
It is my firm view that this “Panorama” programme holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again. It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialised by the BBC and others.
This settled narrative now needs to be addressed by the BBC and anyone else who has written or intends to write about these events.
In an era of fake news, public service broadcasting and a free press have never been more important. These failings, identified by investigative journalists, not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too.”