Martin Bashir quits BBC amid 1985 Princess Diana Panorama interview probe


Martin Bashir has quit the BBC for health reasons as an investigation into how he obtained his famous 1995 Panorama interview with Princess Diana concludes.

The 58-year-old former star reporter at the corporation, who has been on sick leave for months, was rehired by the BBC in 2016 as its religious affairs correspondent.

Mr Bashir allegedly peddled a series of lies and smears designed to lure Diana into his trust, two years before the Princess of Wales died in a car crash in Paris.

But in recent months he has been seriously ill with Covid-19 related complications, and was readmitted to hospital last month for further heart surgery. 

News of his departure was announced by Jonathan Munro, the BBC’s deputy director of news, in a message to staff which told of the reporter’s ‘ongoing’ health issues.

This evening it was announced that Lord Dyson, the judge appointed to look into the circumstances surrounding the explosive 1995 interview, had concluded his investigation. 

A spokeswoman for the former master of the rolls and one-time head of civil justice said: ‘Lord Dyson has concluded his investigation and the report has been passed to the BBC for publication in due course.’

A BBC spokesman said the report would be published ‘very soon’. 

Martin Bashir (pictured in October 2019) has resigned from the BBC for health reasons

Martin Bashir (pictured in October 2019) has resigned from the BBC for health reasons

Mr Munro said today: ‘Martin Bashir has stepped down from his position as the BBC’s religion editor, and is leaving the corporation.

‘He let us know of his decision last month, just before being readmitted to hospital for another surgical procedure on his heart.

‘Although he underwent major surgery toward the end of last year, he is facing some ongoing issues and has decided to focus on his health. We wish him a complete and speedy recovery.’  

Lord Dyson had been considering if the steps taken by the BBC and Mr Bashir were appropriate and to what extent those actions influenced Diana’s decision to give an interview.

TV watchdog Ofcom had said previously it will not launch its own investigation into the BBC Panorama controversy, but would follow the independent inquiry ‘closely’.

Mr Bashir began working as a journalist in 1986 but made headlines around the world in 1995 for his interview with Diana for Panorama.

Diana’s brother Earl Spencer has alleged Mr Bashir showed him fake financial documents and told untrue stories about the royal family to gain access to his sister.

Princess Diana during her interview with Martin Bashir for the BBC in November 1995

Princess Diana during her interview with Martin Bashir for the BBC in November 1995

The BBC is also set to broadcast a Panorama investigation – into itself – which is expected to uncover dramatic failings by former corporation chiefs. 

Former BBC director-general Lord Hall led a 1996 internal BBC investigation into the circumstances surrounding Diana’s appearance, which sent shockwaves through the royal family with her revelations about the state of her marriage.

The BBC has previously said that during an internal corporation investigation in 1996, Mr Bashir admitted commissioning mocked-up bank documents.

An investigation is now taking place into Martin Bashir's BBC interview with Diana in 1995

An investigation is now taking place into Martin Bashir’s BBC interview with Diana in 1995

They had been shown to Earl Spencer, but he said they had played no part in securing the princess’s appearance on Panorama.

In March, Scotland Yard said it would not launch a criminal probe into the interview after an former employee of Earl Spencer made a formal complaint to the force.

A legal representative of Alan Waller, who used to work for Diana’s brother Earl Spencer as head of security, had written to the Met alleging unlawful activity.

Last November the BBC commissioned former Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson (pictured) to probe allegations that the corporation covered up the trail of deceit by its reporter

Last November the BBC commissioned former Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson (pictured) to probe allegations that the corporation covered up the trail of deceit by its reporter

Earl Spencer went public with allegations that Mr Bashir told an extraordinary series of lies to win Diana’s trust and get her to agree to take part in the programme.

Citing notes taken at meetings where Mr Bashir sought to persuade Diana to give an interview, Earl Spencer alleged that he told 32 lies.

These included that his sister’s phone was being tapped and that Prince Charles was in love with her sons’ nanny, Tiggy Legge-Bourke.

Diana agreed to the interview, which was watched by almost 23million people on November 20, 1995. 

Diana and Prince Charles, after announcing their engagement at Buckingham Palace in 1981

Diana and Prince Charles, after announcing their engagement at Buckingham Palace in 1981

In it, she famously said ‘There were three of us in this marriage’, referring to Charles’s relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, and admitted her affair with James Hewitt. 

Mr Bashir was later employed by ITV and worked on Tonight With Trevor McDonald, including a fly-on-the-wall documentary on Michael Jackson.

Earlier this month, The Mail On Sunday revealed Mr Bashir had a new £1.7million six-bedroom home in Hampshire and a £66,000 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400.

The father-of-three moved after selling his large North London townhouse to Lucy Litwack, owner of the Coco de Mer lingerie firm, for £1.8million last November.



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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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