Martin Bashir claimed racism was behind probe into BBC’s explosive Diana interview | UK | News | EUROtoday

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BBC journalist Martin Bashir disregarded claims he secured an interview with Diana, Princess of Wales by means of deceit as being as a result of he was “non-white”, documents have revealed.

He also suggested the allegations would not have been levelled had he been “a Dimbleby” as well as blaming “professional jealousy”.

An email, written by the journalist just months before documentaries into the Panorama interview exposed the scandal, was disclosed after the BBC was ordered by a judge in December to hand over around 3,000 files relating to the affair.

Journalist Andy Webb had put in a freedom of information (FOI) request more than two years ago for the material.

In the email, Bashir also claimed securing the interview while being the child of immigrants with “working-class roots” led to “some irritation” among BBC colleagues.

In the email, dated July 20 2020, Bashir told the head of BBC history, Robert Seatter forged documents played no role in obtaining the interview.

He wrote: “I’m sorry to listen to that this so-called ‘forgery’ story has reared its head once more.

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“It played no part in the interview but did allow professional jealousy, particularly within the corporation, to hang its hat on alleged wrongdoing.

“At the time, it was additionally obvious that there was some irritation {that a} second-generation immigrant of non-white, working class roots ought to have the temerity to enter a Royal Palace and conduct an interview.

“It would have been so much easier if one of the dynastic families (Dimbleby et al) had done it!”

Bashir additionally advised Mr Seatter he had been praised by the then-Prince of Wales’ workers for not giving interviews in regards to the programme.

He wrote: “Since returning to the UK in 2015, and re-joining the BBC in 2016, senior staff in the Prince of Wales’ Office (to my surprise) have expressed their gratitude for my declining of all requests to discuss the interview.

“As I’m positive you’ll perceive, the phrases of the late princess have been deployed to assault surviving members of the Royal Family, significantly the Prince of Wales, one thing that I’ve by no means needed to do.

Martin Bashir interviewed Princess Diana in 1995

Martin Bashir interviewed Princess Diana in 1995 (Image: PA)

“Some day-who knows when (!)- I will need to look back and reflect upon a career that included but hope was not wholly defined by a single interview.

“For that I’ll have to work arduous at recollection – one thing that I discover very troublesome.”

Mr Seatter was asking for a statement from Mr Bashir after being asked to “launch an archive interview in regards to the occasion, which mentions a forgery story involving your self”.

This was ahead of the November 2020 broadcast of an ITV documentary The Diana Interview: Revenge Of A Princess in which graphic designer Matt Wiessler spoke about mocking up the documents for Mr Bashir.

The BBC later apologised and made a financial settlement with Mr Wiessler.

The documents also show Bashir was praised by colleagues at the broadcaster after the interview, with Lord Tony Hall, who was then the corporation’s director of news, saying Bashir “modified the way in which we report the monarchy”.

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Martin Bashir

Martin Bashir secured the interview using forged documents (Image: GETTY)

He wrote in a note that the journalist should be “very happy with your scoop” which he said was handled with “talent, sensitivity and glorious judgment”.

Members of the corporation’s Television Weekly Programme Review Board also praised Bashir at a meeting two days after the interview aired, with one member saying Bashir had shown “journalistic integrity”.

Bashir, a former religion editor, left the BBC in April 2021 citing health reasons after having complications related to COVID-19.

The next month, a report by Lord Dyson concluded that the BBC covered up “deceitful behaviour” by Bashir to secure the 1995 interview and led to an apology from the corporation and a promise never to show it again.

The report said Bashir was in “severe breach” of the BBC’s producer guidelines when he faked bank statements and showed them to Earl Spencer, Diana’s brother, to gain access to Diana.

A BBC spokesperson said on Tuesday: “There is nothing to assist the allegations that the BBC acted in dangerous religion in 2020 and we preserve this suggestion is solely flawed.

“We have worked to provide relevant material throughout this lengthy process, which has involved extensive archive and record searches spanning nearly 30 years.

“We have additionally accepted and apologised when errors have been made and brought in depth steps to rectify these errors.

“Further, as has been said many times, far from attempting to conceal or cover up matters, the BBC commissioned Lord Dyson to conduct an independent investigation so that he could gain a full picture of what happened in 1995, including by obtaining any additional materials that people other than the BBC might possess.

“The BBC offered all related documentation that was within the BBC’s possession to the Lord Dyson inquiry.

“Other individuals involved in these events also supplied Lord Dyson with written materials, which are detailed in the report.

“This was revealed in 2021 and the findings accepted in full by the BBC.”