The BBC inquiry was commissioned after a previous report found the journalist acted in a deceitful way to get the televised interview, the outlet shared.
The investigation concluded that no one in the 58-year-old’s 2016 rehiring had knowledge of the matters involved in the controversial Panorama interview. The outlet shared that if they had known, he “would have never been reappointed.”
Ken MacQuarrie, the BBC’s former director of nations and regions, was asked by BBC director-general Tim Davie to examine the recruitment process that took place, which resulted in Bashir becoming the BBC News’ religious affairs correspondent in September 2016, Deadline.com reported.
According to the outlet, Bashir’s rehiring was branded “scandalous” in light of Lord Dyson’s inquiry into the Diana interview last month. His findings concluded that Bashir used fake bank statements to secure a sit-down with the Princess of Wales for Panorama in 1995.
MacQuarrie’s report revealed that Bashir was recruited because “his knowledge and experience were considered to be the best match to the requirements for the role at that time,” adding that “none of the individuals involved in the recruitment of Martin Bashir had knowledge of all the matters contained in the Dyson Report.”
“I have found no evidence that Martin Bashir was re-hired to contain and/or cover up the events surrounding the 1995 Panorama programme,” said MacQuarrie. “In my view, that theory is entirely unfounded.”
However, MacQuarrie said there were “shortcomings” in the recruitment process, noting that Bashir quickly secured an interview after a coffee meeting with former BBC News director James Harding and Jonathan Munro, the BBC’s head of newsgathering. While this could have been an “unfair advantage,” Bashir “was never guaranteed the role, nor considered unassailable by those involved in the recruitment process.”
In March, it was revealed that Bashir used “deceitful behavior” to secure his controversial interview with Diana.
According to the outlet, Davie said the corporation accepts “in full” the findings of former High Court Judge Lord Dyson.
“Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was keen on the idea of an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the proceeds for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect,” said Davie. “We are very sorry for this. Lord Dyson has identified clear failings.”
“While today’s BBC has significantly better processes and procedures, those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview being secured this way,” he continued. “The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew. While the BBC cannot turn back the clock after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology. The BBC offers that today.”
In response to Lord Dyson’s report, Bashir released his own statement.
“This is the second time that I have willingly fully co-operated with an investigation into events more than 25 years ago,” he said, as quoted by the outlet. “I apologized then, and I do so again now, over the fact that I asked for bank statements to be mocked up. It was a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret. But I absolutely stand by the evidence I gave a quarter of a century ago, and again more recently.”
“I also reiterate that the bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview,” Bashir shared. “Evidence handed to the inquiry in her own handwriting (and published alongside the report today) unequivocally confirms this, and other compelling evidence presented to Lord Dyson reinforces it. In fact, despite his other findings, Lord Dyson himself in any event accepts that the princess would probably have agreed to be interviewed without what he describes as my ‘intervention.’
“It is saddening that this single issue has been allowed to overshadow the princess’ brave decision to tell her story, to courageously talk through the difficulties she faced, and, to help address the silence and stigma that surrounded mental health issues all those years ago. She led the way in addressing so many of these issues and that’s why I will always remain immensely proud of that interview.”
According to the outlet, Lord Dyson was commissioned six months ago by Davie to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the bombshell tell-all. It was alleged that Bashir breached the BBC’s editorial guidelines by creating two false bank statements that he showed to Earl Spencer. The 57-year-old then introduced Bashir to Diana. The interview took place two months later from the meeting.
In November 2020, Earl Spencer told People magazine the documents were influential in his decision to approach Diana about the interview, as they alleged that a member of his staff was being paid by tabloids to leak information about the princess’s family.
“This was what led me to talk to Diana about such things,” he told the outlet. “This, in turn, led to the meeting where I introduced Diana to Bashir, on September 19, 1995. This then led to the interview.”
In October 2020, the Sunday Times alleged that Bashir manipulated Diana into giving the tell-all by showing those faulty bank statements to her brother. After facing pressure from Diana’s family following the report, Davie commissioned an independent inquiry to investigate Bashir’s tactics.
Earlier this year, Bashir was the subject of a criminal investigation. However, the Metropolitan Police decided in March that “no further action would be taken against the journalist.”
Bashir has stepped down from his role as the editor of religion for BBC. The departure was confirmed in an email Munro sent to staff.
In the infamous interview, the Princess of Wales said “there were three of us in this marriage,” referring to Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles, who he married after Diana’s death. Diana, who divorced Charles in 1996, died in a Paris car crash in 1997 as she was being pursued by paparazzi. She was 36.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.