BBC can’t face the ‘ugly truth’: Beeb boss shut me out of probe into dirty tricks used to land Diana interview, says Earl Spencer
- Earl Spencer accused BBC of dodging ‘ugly truth’ about interview with his sister
- Claimed Lord Hall excluded him from inquiry into alleged underhand methods
- The BBC performed a U-turn on Tuesday saying it would now hold a fresh inquiry
Earl Spencer yesterday accused the BBC of dodging the ‘ugly truth’ about its historic interview with his sister Princess Diana.
He also claimed Lord Hall, who was in charge of news and current affairs back in 1995, of excluding him from an inquiry into the allegedly underhand methods used by Martin Bashir to land the scoop.
The former BBC director-general broke his silence this week to say he was unaware of the forged documents at the centre of the new row.
But Earl Spencer said this was ‘hardly surprising’ because he had never asked for them and the inquiry was a ‘whitewash’.
Princess Diana with her brother Earl Charles Spencer at the Birthright Ball
The Princess of Wales during her Panorama interview with BBC journalist Martin Bashir in 1995
He claims that Bashir peddled vile and slanderous claims about senior royals and showed faked bank statements suggesting Diana and Charles’s private secretaries were receiving illicit payments for leaking information to the security services. The suggestion was completely false.
The Panorama journalist allegedly did so to convince the earl to introduce him to his sister – leading to her BBC interview in which she famously said: ‘There are three of us in this marriage.’
The BBC performed a U-turn on Tuesday after the Mail’s revelations, saying it would now hold a fresh inquiry. But the broadcaster refused yesterday to say what shape that inquiry might take.
The earl is demanding a fully independent probe, and yesterday tweeted: ‘Hall chose to exclude me from the inquiry.
Answering the key question – why I was deliberately excluded from the inquiry (one I wasn’t even aware was being conducted) – has to be a part of an independent inquiry.’
He said an apology he has received from new director-general Tim Davie is inadequate because it relates to another set of forged bank statements which the BBC admitted years ago should not have been mocked up.
The earl said: ‘The BBC has shown itself incapable of honestly facing up to the ugly truth of this matter.
‘When the BBC say they’ve ‘apologised’ to me, what they’ve apologised for is showing me false bank statements relating to a lesser, unrelated, matter.
Former BBC Director General Lord Tony Hall arriving to the Broadcasting House in April 2013
Earl Spencer claimed Lord Hall excluded him from an inquiry into the alleged underhand methods used by Martin Bashir (pictured) to land the scoop
They haven’t apologised for the fake bank statements and other deceit that led to me introducing Martin Bashir to my sister.’
Lord Hall has not responded to requests from the Mail for comment. But he told The Times: ‘The BBC should look at any new issues raised and speak to whoever they need to.’
According to Earl Spencer’s claims this week, Bashir told a tissue of lies to him and his sister to play to her paranoia that she was being watched by MI5, and to gain her trust.
Conservative MP Peter Bone said: ‘We need an urgent and independent inquiry to find out the facts and if necessary to take strong action.’
And Dickie Arbiter, who was working as a press secretary for the Queen at the time of the broadcast, said: ‘It sounds as if they have given Earl Spencer a horribly qualified apology for which he is rightly angry.
‘The BBC are suggesting we have to rely on their – and Bashir’s – version of events, which I am not sure anyone has confidence in now. There is no way of knowing for sure as Diana is, sadly, no longer here.’
The regulator Ofcom has received a complaint about the BBC’s ‘improper’ behaviour from a leading libel lawyer, David Hooper. He decided to act after watching a Channel 4 documentary about Bashir’s behaviour.
Mr Hooper wants a probe into the circumstances surrounding the Diana interview and an inquiry under an independent QC. He has submitted a dossier to Ofcom charting the BBC’s alleged failures. The regulator said it was considering the complaint.
Yesterday, the BBC pointed to its statement from the day before when asked about Earl Spencer’s tweets.
It had said: ‘The BBC has apologised. We are happy to repeat that apology. And while this was a quarter of a century ago, we absolutely will investigate – robustly and fairly – substantive new information.
‘We are unable to discuss any of this with Martin Bashir as he is seriously unwell.’