BBC Launches Investigation Into Princess Diana's 'Panorama' Interview After Claims of 'Dishonesty'

The BBC says they are "determined to get to the truth" about Princess Diana's appearance

Diana, Princess of Wales, during her interview with Martin Bashir for the BBC
Princess Diana during her Panorama interview. Photo: PA Images

After the BBC was accused of faking documents to secure their famous 1995 Panorama interview with Princess Diana, the network says they are "determined to get to the truth."

The BBC announced Wednesday that they hired former British Supreme Court Judge John Dyson, Lord Dyson to lead an independent investigation surrounding Diana's appearance on Panorama, where she candidly spoke to host Martin Bashir about her bulimia battle, extramarital affairs and more.

"The BBC is determined to get to the truth about these events and that is why we have commissioned an independent investigation," said Tim Davie, BBC Director-General. "Formerly Master of the Rolls and a Justice of the Supreme Court, Lord Dyson is an eminent and highly respected figure who will lead a thorough process."

Lord Dyson said in a statement, "This is an important investigation which I will start straight away. I will ensure it is both thorough and fair."

A story last month in the Sunday Times revealed that Bashir created fake bank statements before the November 1995 interview in a bid to convince Diana's brother Charles Spencer that one of his staff was leaking information about their family.

charles spencer, princess diana
Charles Spencer and Princess Diana. Amanda Edwards/WireImage; Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty

The 9th Earl Spencer then released a scathing letter sent to the head of the BBC, accusing the outlet of a "whitewash" over unethical tactics used to secure Diana's TV appearance and calling for a new inquiry. A 1996 BBC internal investigation concluded that the faked papers had "no bearing" on the interview, a claim Spencer dismissed while accusing the BBC of "sheer dishonesty" over the BBC's conduct.

“[The BBC] have yet to apologize for what truly matters here: the incredibly serious falsification of bank statements suggesting that Diana’s closest confidants were spying on her for her enemies," Spencer told PEOPLE.

"This was what led me to talk to Diana about such things. This in turn led to the meeting where I introduced Diana to Bashir, on 19 September 1995. This then led to the interview," he continues. "The BBC have so far refused to acknowledge the above. They claim Diana wasn’t misled. They have ignored my inquiry as to whether the apology over their false bank statements extends to the ones that actually persuaded Diana to meet Bashir."

Martin Bashir
Martin Bashir. Mark Allan/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

In response to the Sunday Times story last month, the BBC said Bashir is unwell and unable to respond: “Questions surrounding Panorama’s interview with the Princess of Wales and in particular the ‘mocking-up’ of bank statements, were covered in the press at the time. BBC records from the period indicate that Martin had explained to the BBC that the documents had been shown to Earl Spencer, and that they were not shown to the Princess of Wales. The BBC’s internal records from the time indicate that Martin had met the Princess of Wales before the mocked-up documentation existed. These accounts also say that the Princess of Wales confirmed in writing that these documents played no part in her decision to give [the interview]."

Last week, the BBC announced that they will hold a “robust and independent investigation."

Christening of Rosa Monckton's Daughter Domenica at St Mary's Church - 03 Jul 1995
Princess Diana and Rosa Monckton. Alan Davidson/REX/Shutterstock

Princess Diana's close friend Rosa Monckton — who chose Diana as a godmother for her daughter — told the Daily Mail that the BBC interview contributed to the royal's untimely death.

Monckton wrote that the interview "dishonestly achieved, probably changed the course of history," prompting Princess Diana and Prince Charles to begin divorce proceedings, "which meant that decisions about their future were made hurriedly, with long-term implications not thought through."

"Among those decisions was the fact that Diana lost her royal title," Diana's friend said. "Had she retained it, she would have still been in the embrace of the Royal Family when in Paris on August 31, 1997. And she would almost certainly not have been in the incapable hands of a speeding drunk driver employed by Mohamed Al-Fayed, who owned the Ritz Hotel where she and his son, Dodi, had dined."

Princess Diana, Princess of Wales
Princess Diana. Anwar Hussein/WireImage

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

The car accident that killed Diana is believed to have been caused by paparazzi chasing the royal — but Monckton said the BBC is equally responsible.

"For the BBC, our national broadcasting corporation, to behave in this devious and underhand way is just as bad as any of the hunting pack of paparazzi," she said.

Related Articles