Princess Diana Interviewer Martin Bashir Will Not Face Criminal Charges Over 1995 Panorama Interview
BBC journalist Martin Bashir will not face any criminal charges over his 1995 Panorama interview with Princess Diana, in which she famously claimed there were "three of us" in her marriage to Prince Charles.
In October 2020, the Sunday Times alleged that Bashir, 58 — now BBC News religion editor — improperly manipulated Diana into giving the interview by showing two false bank statements to Diana's brother, Charles Spencer.
Speaking exclusively to PEOPLE in November 2020, Earl Spencer stated that Bashir's documents played a hugely influential role in his decision to approach Diana about the interview, as they alleged that a member of his staff was being paid to leak information about the princess's family.
"This was what led me to talk to Diana about such things," he told PEOPLE. "This, in turn, led to the meeting where I introduced Diana to Bashir, on September 19, 1995. This then led to the interview."
Following a months-long investigation, however, Scotland Yard decided Thursday that "no further action will be taken" against Bashir, who is currently recovering from heart surgery and health complications related to COVID-19.
"In recent months the Metropolitan Police Service received correspondence alleging unlawful activity in connection with a documentary broadcast in 1995," Commander Alex Murray said in a Scotland Yard release. "This was carefully assessed by specialist detectives.
"They obtained legal advice from Metropolitan Police lawyers, independent counsel and from the Crown Prosecution Service."
"Following this detailed assessment and in view of the advice we received, we have determined that it is not appropriate to begin a criminal investigation into these allegations," the release continued. No further action will be taken."
"In this matter, as in any other, should any significant new evidence come to light we will assess it."
Earl Spencer was first approached by Bashir about three months before the famous interview, which took place amid the fallout of Diana's collapsed marriage to Charles.
The bombshell conversation led swiftly to an order from Queen Elizabeth that Diana and Charles should divorce (they had separated in 1992), which they did in 1996. The princess died at age 36 following a car crash in Paris in August 1997.
While a 1996 BBC internal investigation concluded that the faked papers had "no bearing" on the interview, it is a finding Spencer dismissed while accusing the BBC of "sheer dishonesty".
"[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 in Nov 2020.
"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."
In a letter to BBC director-general, Tim Davie, published by the Daily Mail, Spencer, 56, also called for an inquiry into Bashir's conduct, telling Davie the BBC needed to apologize "posthumously to Diana; to all who were grossly lied to — including a global audience; and to me."
In reply, the BBC stated that they had apologized to Spencer, telling PEOPLE, "The BBC has apologized. 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. We have asked Earl Spencer to share further information with the BBC. Unfortunately, we are hampered at the moment by the simple fact that we are unable to discuss any of this with Martin Bashir, as he is seriously unwell. When he is well, we will of course hold an investigation into these new issues."
Following the publication of the Sunday Times article, Rosa Monckton — who chose Diana as a godmother for her daughter — told the Daily Mail that she noticed a "sudden change" in Diana's behavior after she began meeting with Bashir.
"Diana changed from being very concerned with day-to-day matters, just like any normal friend, to suddenly becoming obsessed with plots against her," Monckton wrote.
"She believed Bashir's outrageous claims — one of his skills, clearly, was in exploiting her susceptibility to the idea that she was being spied on by 'enemies,'" she added.
"You have to remember that this was a woman who spent all her married life being chased by the paparazzi. Little wonder she was susceptible."
In January, Diana's former lover, Hasnat Khan, 62, also publicly stated his belief that Diana was "manipulated" by the BBC reporter.
"One of her most attractive qualities was her vulnerability. It was what endeared her to the public. I later realized that Martin picked on those vulnerabilities and exploited them," Khan, 62, told the Daily Mail.
"He was very persuasive with Diana. It was all about him being from the BBC, being respectable and very pious even. But he filled her head with rubbish," said Khan, who is famously private and has rarely spoken publicly about his relationship with Diana.