BBC releases 3,000 emails about Princess Diana interview scandal

BBC releases 3,000 emails about Princess Diana interview scandal

Martin Bashir blamed professional jealousy for the controversy surrounding the way he secured an interview with Princess Diana.

Newly released emails also show the journalist thought his class and race played a role in the scandal.

His comments were written in 2020, before documentaries examining the 1995 interview were broadcast.

The BBC has released around 3,000 emails relating to the interview after a freedom of information (FOI) request.

In 2021, an inquiry found that Bashir had secured the Panorama interview through deception and faking documents.

A judge ordered the release of the emails after investigative journalist Andy Webb asked for the documents to be released.

Webb claims BBC managers tried in 2020 to cover up Bashir’s actions in 1995, when he obtained the interview.

The BBC said any suggestion that it had acted in bad faith was “simply wrong”.

In an email dated 20 July 2020, Bashir told the head of BBC history, Robert Seatter, that forged documents played no role in securing the interview and it would have caused less controversy if a “dynastic” journalist such as one of the Dimblebys had been involved.

Bashir wrote: “I am sorry to hear that this so-called ‘forgery’ story has reared its head again. 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 also apparent that there was some irritation that a second-generation immigrant of non-white, working class roots should 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 also told Mr Seatter he had been praised by the staff of the then-Prince of Wales – now the King – for not giving interviews about 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 am sure you will understand, the words of the late princess have been deployed to attack surviving members of the Royal Family, particularly the Prince of Wales, something that I have never wanted to do.”

Bashir stepped down as the BBC’s religion editor shortly before the publication of the inquiry’s damning report, which also criticised the BBC over how it handled claims about his tactics.


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