BBC director general Tim Davie said that he has “no intention” of airing journalist Martin Bashir’s explosive 1995 interview with Princess Diana in full “ever again,” following a damning report released last week.
The investigation and subsequent report, conducted by former judge Lord John Dyson, showed that Bashir used “deceitful” practices and tactics to obtain the interview with the royal, including forging bank documents.
Davie appeared on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program on Tuesday, where he told host Justin Webb about his future plans for the interview footage.
“I think we need to discuss clips and reflect on that,” he said, after Webb added that Prince William said in a statement that the interview should never be shown again as it “holds no legitimacy” and “established a false narrative” for over 25 years, in the duke’s view.
“I think there is a case, a legitimate case, around whether you need clips to show the context of that interview,” Davie added.
Webb raised “the point that people make is that Princess Diana did this interview, she probably would’ve done another one ― she already felt desperately, desperately bad about her life. She wanted to say the things that she wanted to say.” This was also acknowledged in the Dyson report, including the note that Diana was pleased with the “BBC Panorama” interview immediately after it aired.
“My view is you cannot now look at this interview free from the context in which it was secured,” Davie added. “You can’t. So any use of clips have to be considered in that context.”
When Webb asked if Davie knew why Bashir was rehired in 2016, Davie told Webb he did not know, but added that the BBC is under a “quick investigation now, led independently within the BBC.”
“We’re interviewing people, getting the documents and we should be able to publish something by next week,” he said. The report will be made public, like the Dyson report.
The BBC had no further clarification about Davie’s comments or interview when asked for confirmation whether or not the interview will ever air in full again when reached for comment by HuffPost on Tuesday.
Webb also pressed Davie on whether the BBC accepts what Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, said last week, in that he saw a “direct line” between the deceptions connected to Bashir’s BBC interview with Diana and the royal’s death two years later.
“I think we fully accept the Dyson report. I think beyond that, Justin, we are into speculation,” Davie said. “And that’s where I am. And by the way ― the Dyson report lays out multiple serious failings for the BBC. We apologize fully.”
When Webb pressed further about Spencer’s allegation, Davie answered that he doesn’t have the evidence.
“It’s as simple as that. It’s not a question of rejecting it. It’s just simply: I’m driven by the evidence in the Dyson report. And I think that’s a fair reading, of what I’ve got in front of me,” he added.
When the Dyson report made waves last week, it prompted apologies from the BBC to all parties involved with the interview, and drew two blistering, separate statements from both Prince William and Prince Harry.
The Duke of Cambridge said Thursday that “It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.”
The Duke of Sussex added in a statement also shared with HuffPost that “the ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took” his mother’s life.
Bashir later apologized to William and Harry through an article in the U.K.’s Sunday Times over the weekend, saying that he was “deeply sorry” to them, but maintained that he didn’t think the interview harmed the princess.
“I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did,” Bashir said. “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 ... My family and I loved her.”