The BBC announced Monday that it’s launching a “robust” probe into accusations that lies and forged documents were used to trick Princess Diana into her groundbreaking 1995 interview with journalist Martin Bashir.
Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, claimed that Bashir lied to him and Diana to convince her to speak out in the interview that kept some 23 million people in Britain glued to their TV sets. Diana, who was killed in a car crash two years after the interview, told Bashir about her crumbling marriage to Prince Charles in a heartbreaking sit-down that catapulted the then-unknown journalist to fame.
Spencer alleged Bashir won Diana’s trust by lying that intelligence services were tracking her car, tapping her phones and reading her correspondence. Forged bank statements allegedly showed aides were being paid for information about her.
The BBC’s director general, Tim Davie, said the broadcaster was “in the process of commissioning a robust and independent investigation” of the claims.
“The BBC is taking this very seriously and we want to get to the truth,” Davie added.
Bashir, seriously ill after heart surgery and suffering from complications related to COVID-19, is unable to address the accusations, according to the BBC. He now works as the BBC’s religion editor.
Former BBC chairman Michael Grade said the issue was “a very, very serious matter” for the broadcaster.
The BBC investigated the phony bank statements in 1996, but determined that Diana did not see them and that they played no part in her decision to agree to the interview. Bashir was cleared of wrongdoing at the time.
In the interview, the vulnerable, popular “People’s Princess” publicly admitted for the first time that she had an affair during her marriage. She also referred to Charles’ longstanding relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles. Charles married Parker-Bowles in 2005.
“There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” the somber princess told Bashir in the interview.
Diana Spencer was a pretty, reputed virgin from a noble family who went to finishing school and worked as a nanny when she was chosen by Charles to be his wife at the age of 20. He was 32. Amid the prince’s philandering, the rigors of her royal duties, and dealing with demanding in-laws, Diana suffered from postpartum depression after the births of William and Harry, and became bulimic and suicidal.
At the time she sat down with Bashir, she was separated from Charles, but not yet divorced. They finalized their divorce the following year.
The BBC probe is being launched just as “The Crown” Netflix series about the royal family is about to introduce characters playing Diana and Margaret Thatcher in Season 4, beginning Nov. 15.