Charles Spencer has demanded the BBC launch an inquiry after he claimed he was shown “false bank statements” to help encourage his sister, Princess Diana, to give an interview to the Panorama programme back in 1995.
Diana sent shockwaves through the monarchy when she told the BBC documentary: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” a reference to the now Duchess of Cornwall – whom Prince Charles later married.
At the time Princess Diana was separated from Charles but not yet divorced.
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The circumstances behind Diana agreeing to be interviewed by reporter Martin Bashir, currently BBC News religion editor, prompted a BBC investigation at the time and a recent Channel 4 documentary.
In a letter to BBC director-general Tim Davie, reported by the Daily Mail, Charles accused the BBC of a "whitewash" and said "sheer dishonesty" was used to secure the interview.
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Nearly 23 million people watched Princess Diana's Panorama interview
Diana’s brother is now claiming that he was shown “false bank statements” by Martin, which related to alleged payments made to two members of the royal household by the security services for information on his sister, in the hope it would win him an introduction to the princess.
The BBC has apologised for the faked statements, but it says a note from Diana at the time said she did not see them. The BBC said her note read "she hadn't seen the mocked-up documents and they had played no part in her decision to take part in the interview."
The corporation said it would investigate "substantive new information" but this was "hampered at the moment" by the fact that Martin is "seriously unwell" with Covid-related complications and unable to discuss the claims.
In light of his new claims, Charles has called for an apology from the BBC “directed posthumously to Diana; to all who were so grossly lied to – including a global audience; and to me”, in part of the correspondence published in the Daily Mail.
Charles Spencer is calling for a BBC inquiry into the interview
A BBC spokeswoman said: “The BBC has apologised. 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.”
Charles claims in his letter that the BBC’s earlier investigation into whether Diana had been misled, conducted by Lord Hall, then the director of BBC news and current affairs and later director-general, was a “whitewash”.
The BBC claim Diana was not influenced by the 'false' documents
He wrote: “I am now formally asking for the BBC to open an inquiry into this matter, and I hope that it will get to the bottom of key questions: why did Tony Hall’s inquiry not seek the truth from me?
“Why did it bend over backwards to whitewash Bashir? Who else knew the extent of his yellow journalism when securing what Hall calls ‘the interview of the decade… or of the generation?'”
Nearly 23 million people tuned in to watch the Panorama interview, recorded almost 25 years ago, on 20 November 1995.
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