British journalist Martin Bashir apologized to Princess Diana’s sons for duping her into an explosive BBC interview in 1995.
Bashir, in a Sunday newspaper interview, said he is “deeply sorry” to Prince William and Harry. But Bashir insisted that his profoundly revealing conversation with the fragile princess did her no harm.
“I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did,” he told London’s 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.” He added: “My family and I loved her.”
The Times described Bashir as a “broken man who can’t quite admit he wronged Diana.”
Diana was tricked into submitting to the interview with the help of bank documents Bashir instructed a BBC graphic artist to doctor, former British Supreme Court judge John Dyson determined after a six-month investigation.
The records were provided to Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, and appeared to show that media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News International was paying a security guard, and possibly even private secretaries of Diana and Prince Charles. The implication was that they were being paid to provide information about Diana. Bashir used the shared information to convince Spencer to arrange a meeting with his sister, the investigation found.
Spencer said Bashir showed him the documents “to groom me, so that he could then get to Diana for the interview he was always secretly after.”
Bashir released a statement Thursday apologizing for “the fact that I asked for bank statements to be mocked up.” But he insisted it wasn’t the fake documents that convinced Diana to participate in the interview.
“It was a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret,” he said in the statement. “I also reiterate that the bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview.” Bashir repeated that defense to the Sunday Times — did not reveal what he believed convinced her to participate.
“She led the way in addressing so many ... issues, and that’s why I will always remain immensely proud of that interview,” he also noted.
In her riveting, tell-all interview, Diana discussed the pain of Charles’ long-term, continuing affair with then-married Camilla Parker-Bowles, who is now Charles’ wife and the Duchess of Cornwall. “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” said the sad princess.
Diana also talked about her post-partum depression after William was born, and her battles with self-harming and bulimia.
Charles asked for a divorce the month after the interview. Diana was killed at the age of 35 with boyfriend Dodi Fayed in a car accident in Paris in 1997 as they fled paparazzi.
Despite complaints after the interview and a BBC internal investigation, the network cleared Bashir of wrongdoing. The Dyson report slammed the BBC probe as “woefully ineffective.”
BBC Chair Richard Sharp issued an apology and said the network committed “unacceptible failures.”
There was no immediate reaction from the royal family to Bashir’s new interview. But William and Harry each issued blistering statements Thursday slamming the BBC and Bashir, who quit the network earlier this month.
“Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed,” said Harry, the Duke of Sussex.
William, the Duke of Cambridge, said Bashir’s deception led to the interview and shaded what his mother said.
“It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said,” he said in a statement. “The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others.”