The metropolitan police will not launch a criminal investigation into then-BBC journalist Martin Bashir’s 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, the force announced.
The decision was made after examining Lord Dyson’s report on the controversial documentary, which found that Bashir had acted in a “misleading” manner by commissioning fake bank statements to obtain the interview, and which was critical of the BBC’s internal investigation into the matter. .
Scotland Yard said in March that it would not launch a criminal investigation, but said it has since evaluated the content of the 127-page independent report by former Supreme Court Justice John Dyson, released two months later.
In a statement Wednesday, the force said: “In March 2021, the Metropolitan Police Service determined that it was inappropriate to initiate a criminal investigation into allegations of illegal activity in connection with a documentary broadcast in 1995.
“Following the publication of Lord Dyson’s report in May, specialist detectives evaluated its contents and carefully observed the law, once again obtaining independent legal advice from the Treasury Counsel and consulting with the Crown Prosecution Service.
“As a result, the MPS has not identified evidence of activity that constitutes a crime and, therefore, will not take any further action.”
The Dyson report found that Bashir had engaged in “deceptive behavior” by commissioning the fake bank statement, which was a “serious violation” of the BBC’s editorial guidelines. He showed the false documents to Earl Spencer, to gain his trust and to be able to introduce Bashir to his sister, according to the report. By gaining access to Diana in this way, Bashir was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview.
The report also criticized the conduct of Tony Hall, the corporation’s former CEO, who was accused of overseeing a flawed and “woefully ineffective” internal investigation into the matter. As then director of BBC News, Hall knew that Bashir had told “serious and inexplicable lies” about what he had done to get the world exclusive interview.
When other outlets began asking questions about how the BBC had managed to persuade the princess to speak, Dyson said the corporation “hid in its press records” what it knew.
The report concluded: “Without justification, the BBC failed to meet the high standards of integrity and transparency that are its hallmark.”
A 1995 letter from Princess Diana, published as evidence, said she “has no regrets” about the matter.
The interview with Bashir for Panorama was a great first for the BBC. In it, the princess said: “We were three in this marriage.”
The Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex issued strong statements after the report was released. William and Harry condemned the BBC for its treatment of their mother, saying the interview fueled her “out of fear, paranoia and isolation” and that a “broader culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life.”
Hall later said he was “deeply sorry” for the “pain” caused by the interview scandal, but denied there had been a “BBC cover-up”. Since then, the corporation has also apologized to the whistleblower who tried to expose Bashir’s methods. Graphic designer Matt Wiessler was sidelined by the corporation after expressing concern that the journalist had used fake bank statements that he faked for Bashir to persuade Diana to do the interview.
In a statement after the report was released, Bashir said: “I reiterate that the bank statements have nothing to do with Princess Diana’s personal choice to participate in the interview.”