Princess Diana's Private Secretary Receives 'Substantial' Damages From BBC Over 1995 Panorama Interview

In a statement released Thursday, the BBC apologized "unreservedly" to Commander Patrick Jephson for the "serious harm" caused by rogue journalist Martin Bashir

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

Princess Diana's bombshell 1995 Panorama interview continues to make waves more than a quarter of a century after it was broadcast.

In a statement released Thursday, the BBC apologized "unreservedly" to Diana's private secretary, Patrick Jephson, for the "serious harm" caused by journalist Martin Bashir in securing the interview — during which the princess famously claimed there were "three of us" in her marriage to Prince Charles.

The corporation added that it had also paid "a substantial sum in damages" to Jephson, stating that it "accepts and acknowledges that serious harm was caused to Commander Jephson as a result of the circumstances in which the 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales was obtained."

Jephson "intends to donate in full to British charities nominated by him," the statement continued.

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

In response, Diana's brother Charles Spencer tweeted that the BBC's decision was "The right result — appalling what Patrick Jephson had to go through as a result of grotesque "journalism."

"Also terrible that it was covered up for so long by senior people at the ⁦@BBCNews⁩," he continued. "There will be more to come out on all this, before long."

Diana's interview with Bashir generated global headlines after she admitted that both she and Prince Charles had been unfaithful during their marriage. She also revealed that she had suffered from bulimia and self-harm during her relationship with the Prince of Wales.

This swiftly led to an order from Queen Elizabeth that Charles and Diana should divorce (they had separated in 1992). Tragically, Diana died just one year after the official divorce, following a car crash in Paris in August 1997.

Charles Spencer
Alex B. Huckle/Getty

In October 2020, a Sunday Times investigation shined new light on the interview by alleging that Bashir, 59, had improperly manipulated Diana into giving the interview by showing two false bank statements to Charles Spencer.

Following this and pressure from Diana's family, the BBC director-general, Tim Davie, commissioned an independent inquiry into Bashir's tactics by former High Court judge Lord John Dyson.

In May 2021, Dyson ruled that Bashir had used "deceitful methods" to secure his controversial interview and blasted senior BBC executives for trying to cover up the scale of his duplicity.

"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," Davie said after the report's publication. "We are very sorry for this."

"While today's BBC has significantly better processes and procedures, those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview being secured in this way," he continued. "The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew."

Princess Diana
Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty

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Shortly after the report's publication, Bashir spoke out about his involvement in the controversial 1995 interview, stating that he was "deeply sorry" for his actions.

"I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don't believe we did," he said in an interview with The Sunday Times. "Everything we did in terms of the interview was as she wanted, from when she wanted to alert the palace, to when it was broadcast, to its contents."

"I can't imagine what their family must feel each day," he continued in reference to Diana's sons Prince William and Prince Harry.

While Bashir will never be prosecuted for his deceitful methods, the BBC has suffered both financial and reputational damage. In September 2021 it paid "significant" damages to former royal nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke after it emerged that Bashir had allegedly convinced Diana that she had become pregnant by Prince Charles and produced a faked abortion "receipt" as proof.

Tiggy — who previously left her job as a nanny back in 1999 after she got married, and now resides in Wales — is reported to have received in excess of £100,000 (over $137,400).

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