PRINCE William has sensationally intervened in the row over Martin Bashir’s interview with Diana.
Wills welcomed an announcement that there would be a probe into how Bashir landed the BBC Panorama grilling in 1995 as a "step in the right direction".
The BBC yesterday appointed an ex-judge to lead an inquiry into how Bashir obtained the 1995 Panorama chat.
Mr Bashir allegedly peddled 32 lies and smears to the princess to clinch his explosive interview in which she famously said: "There were three of us in this marriage".
In a break with precedent, William said in a statement: “The independent investigation is a step in the right direction.
"It should help establish the truth behind the actions that led to the Panorama interview and subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time.”
A source close to Wills, who was 13 at the time, said he has been “informed appropriately” by the BBC, and has been in touch with the broadcaster for a fortnight.
The source said: “This is in part about protecting his mother’s legacy, so it is a very personal matter.
“William has kept a close eye on what has unfolded but believes things are moving in the right direction.
“In the end what he wants is the same as everyone else — for the truth to be unearthed and any appropriate action taken.”
The BBC has said Diana wrote a note saying she did not see the false bank statements and that they played no part in her decision to give the interview.
However, the corporation said it no longer has a copy of the letter.
Lord Dyson, former Master of the Rolls and head of civil justice, will start the inquiry immediately.
It will consider if the steps taken by the BBC and Bashir were appropriate, and to what extent they influenced Diana’s decision to take part in the grilling.
In her November 1995 interview, the Princess lifted the lid on husband Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, famously saying: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
Diana admitted to her infidelity with Army captain James Hewitt, and questioned Charles’s suitability as king.
A month later the Queen urged the separated couple to divorce, which they did in 1996.
Diana died in a Paris car crash in 1997.
A graphic designer who mocked up the documents allegedly used to secure the interview has said he was made “the fall guy” by the BBC and urged the broadcaster to apologise.
What questions does Lord Dyson want answered?
Lord Dyson’s investigation, announced this afternoon, will consider five points:
- What steps did the BBC, and in particular Martin Bashir, take with a view to obtaining the Panorama interview on November 20 1995 with Diana, Princess of Wales? This will involve a consideration of all the relevant evidence including (i) the mocked up bank statements purporting to show payments to a former employee of Earl Spencer (ii) the purported payments to members of the Royal Households; and (iii) the other matters recently raised by Earl Spencer not limited to the matters published in the Daily Mail on 7 November 2020.
- Were those steps appropriate, having regard in particular to the BBC’s editorial standards prevailing at the time?
- To what extent did the actions of the BBC and in particular Martin Bashir influence Diana, Princess of Wales’s decision to give an interview?
- What knowledge did the BBC have in 1995 and 1996 of the relevant evidence referred to at paragraph 1 above?
- Having regard to what was known at the time of its investigation in 1995 and 1996, how effectively did the BBC investigate the circumstances leading to the interview?
Director-General Tim Davie said yesterday: “The BBC is determined to get to the truth about these events. Lord Dyson is a highly respected figure who will lead a thorough process.”
Lord Dyson vowed to be “both thorough and fair”.
Bashir is currently signed off from work as the BBC’s religion editor.
The corporation said: “He is recovering from quadruple heart bypass surgery and has significant complications from having contracted Covid-19 earlier in the year.”
The BBC will publish the report of this investigation at its conclusion.
A pal of the Princess told The Sun she believes Mr Bashir faked the note.
Simone Simmons, close to the Princess at the time, said: “She never wrote any note — she would not write anything like that."
The probe will begin immediately and the BBC is handing over all of its relevant records.
Bosses at the corporation also denied claims the letter from Diana was forged, with a spokesperson saying there isn't a "shred of evidence to suggest the note from the Princess was anything other than genuine".
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