The BBC’s chief yesterday said the broadcaster will “never” again screen its era-defining Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales and urged other broadcasters to follow its example.
The pledge by the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie came in light of an inquiry by Lord Dyson, which found that interviewer Martin Bashir’s deceitful behaviour – including the faking of statements to make it look as though Diana’s staff were selling stories on her – “fell short of high standards of integrity and transparency.” Dyson’s report found Bashir to be in “serious breach” of BBC producer guidelines as he pursued his scoop 27 years ago.
On Thursday, Davie said: “Now we know about the shocking way that the interview was obtained, I have decided that the BBC will never show the programme again; nor will we license it in whole or part to other broadcasters.
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“It does of course remain part of the historical record and there may be occasions in the future when it will be justified for the BBC to use short extracts for journalistic purposes, but these will be few and far between and will need to be agreed at executive committee level and set in the full context of what we now know about the way the interview was obtained.
“I would urge others to exercise similar restraint.”
His comments came on the same day the Duke of Cambridge’s former nanny Alexandra Pettifer, then known as Tiggy Legge-Bourke, received substantial damages from the BBC over “false and malicious” allegations that she had had an affair with her employer, the Prince of Wales, while working in his household in 1995.
The BBC previously agreed to pay Diana’s private secretary Patrick Jephson a “substantial sum” in damages, as well as former Panorama producer Mark Killick.
The broadcaster also previously returned the BAFTA award it won for the interview, which was watched by 23million British viewers when it was broadcast in November 1995.
Prince William previously said of the way the interview with his mother was obtained: “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.”
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