Prince William says BBC ‘deceit interview’ worsened my parents’ relationship
Prince William has said his late mum, Princess Diana was failed not just by Martin Bashir but by leaders at the BBC.
The Duke of Cambridge blamed BBC failings over its interview with his mother for fueling her paranoia and worsening his parents’ relationship.
After an inquiry found the BBC fell below its standards, Prince William said he was “most saddened” Diana never learned she had been deceived.
He said his mother was failed “not just by a rogue reporter” but by BBC bosses.
The Met Police said it will assess the new report, after previously deciding against a criminal investigation.
The Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex blamed a toxic media culture for his mother’s death.
In his separate statement, Harry said that the “ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices” ultimately took his mother’s life.
He expressed concern such practices “are still widespread today”, adding that it was “bigger than one outlet, one network or one publication”.
“Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed. By protecting her legacy, we protect everyone, and uphold the dignity with which she lived her life,” he said.
The BBC has written to apologise to Princes William and Harry, as well as the Prince of Wales and Diana’s brother Earl Spencer.
Matt Wiessler, the graphic designer who first raised concerns about the fake documents used to secure the interview and who was later denied work by the BBC, told Radio 4’s Today programme that an apology sent to him at 22:00 BST on Thursday was “too little, too late”.
He criticised Lord Hall, who led an internal investigation at the time, and then BBC director-general Lord Birt for not apologising to him in person.
It’s hard to overstate the strength of feeling expressed by William.
Not just about Martin Bashir, but with the whole BBC, whom he thinks entirely failed to investigate the matter and covered up elements that were not to its liking.
Note, there was no talk of drawing a line under this, there was no talk of this being a long time ago.
Instead, he effectively accuses the BBC of driving his parents towards divorce and playing some part in the events that led towards his mother’s death.
Harry too, issued a statement, not as angry, not so pointed, instead referring, as he has before, to a “culture of exploitation and unethical practices”.
In the past, of course, it’s been Harry that’s been so angry with the media, William appeared to have made his peace with it, but the second in line to the throne has launched a visceral attack on the BBC, a sign of his deep hurt and deep dismay.
The independent inquiry – by retired judge Lord Dyson – found that interviewer Martin Bashir acted in a “deceitful” way and faked documents to obtain his interview.
The BBC’s 1996 probe led by then-head of News and Current Affairs Lord Hall into initial complaints about what happened was “woefully ineffective”, it added.
Prince William said the interview made a “major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse”, adding it has “since hurt countless others”.
“But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived,” he said.
“She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.”
Lord Dyson found that Bashir deceived Earl Spencer into introducing the journalist to his sister by showing him forged bank statements that falsely suggested individuals were being paid for keeping the princess under surveillance.
Prince William said that, in his view, the deceitful way the interview was obtained “substantially influenced what my mother said” in response to Bashir.
He said the original Panorama interview programme had “no legitimacy” and should never be aired again