Martin Bashir has been saying sorry to BBC colleagues for the ’embarrassment’ over his Princess Diana interview and branding it ‘a tragic way to retire’, it was claimed yesterday
Martin Bashir has been saying sorry to BBC colleagues for the ’embarrassment’ over his Princess Diana interview and branding it ‘a tragic way to retire’, it was claimed yesterday.
The under-fire broadcaster has been sending apologetic text messages to friends at the corporation, it is understood.
Last night a source told the Mail: ‘He’s sending texts to his mates saying ‘this is a tragic way to retire and I’m sorry for all the embarrassment I have caused you’. He has sent that to several people in the BBC.’
Bashir, 57, has not said anything publicly about retiring. He is currently signed off sick at home following a heart operation and catching Covid.
But he is expected to take part in an inquiry that the BBC is commissioning into allegations he obtained his 1995 Diana scoop with a breath-taking array of lies and tricks.
It comes as The Daily Telegraph reported last night that he is unlikely to work for the BBC again.
The newspaper’s website said BBC insiders have refused to back him and concede, privately, that he is unlikely to return to his job as the corporation’s religious affairs correspondent once the review is completed.
It is a far cry from the adulation he enjoyed after landing his exclusive. In February 1996 Bashir was feted at the Royal Television Society’s annual journalism awards ceremony. He scooped the top prizes of Journalist of the Year and Interview of the Year.
Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, has called for all the awards the BBC won for interviewing his vulnerable sister to be handed back.
Panorama also won a Bafta, and an accolade from the Television and Radio Industries Club, and in addition Bashir was handed a Broadcasting Press Guild Award.
He went on to acclaim and fortune in the United States, before returning to the BBC in 2016.
It is a far cry from the adulation he enjoyed after landing his exclusive. In February 1996 Bashir was feted at the Royal Television Society’s annual journalism awards ceremony
But after two weeks of lurid revelations about his Diana interview, Bashir now faces multiple inquiries.
The BBC’s new director general Tim Davie has pledged a ‘robust and independent’ investigation, but has yet to say who will lead it. The investigation will also look at a 1996 inquiry by BBC top brass which as been branded a whitewash.
The corporation also faces a parliamentary inquiry. Steve Brine, the Conservative MP for Winchester, said he would discuss the scandal with fellow members of the media committee at their meeting next Tuesday.
Mr Brine called on Bashir to give an explanation for the use of faked bank accounts shown to Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, adding: ‘I am fully behind Earl Spencer’s call for an inquiry. If [Bashir] has got nothing to hide, then just tell us.’
Mr Brine has questioned why, even if unfit to work, Bashir cannot give an account of events dating back to when the interview was broadcast.
The journalist was seen returning home last Friday carrying an Indian takeaway and wine.
There have also been calls for a police inquiry, after the BBC admitted Bashir had ‘mocked up’ fake bank statements which he used to gain access to the princess.
Earl Spencer says Bashir peddled 32 vile smears to Diana about her staff betraying her and the royals plotting against her, playing on her paranoia to win her trust.
The journalist was seen returning home last Friday carrying an Indian takeaway and wine
Friends of the princess, including close confidante Rosa Monckton, have questioned whether the Bashir interview had an effect on the chain of events that ultimately led to her death in Paris on August 31, 1997.
She has recalled how Diana was consumed by conspiracy theories at the time, and only now realises they may have been fed to her by Bashir.
The fallout from his web of deceit also affected ordinary individuals such as BBC graphic designer Matt Wiessler who agreed to help Bashir create the false bank statements, not realising what the reporter intended to do with them. Mr Wiessler says the BBC made him into a scapegoat.
John Miles, Bashir’s agent, said last night: ‘Martin Bashir is not available to comment at this moment in time as he is recovering from ill health but will respond when he is better.’
The BBC said it was committed to a full and independent inquiry to get to the bottom of what happened. Last night the corporation said Bashir had not resigned.