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BBC removes controversial Martin Bashir interview with Diana from distribution

BBC director general Tim Davie has said the UK pubcaster will no longer air or license its controversial 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.

Tim Davie

An Interview with HRH The Princess of Wales saw Diana speak to journalist Martin Bashir about her relationship with her husband, Charles, the Prince of Wales, and the reasons for their subsequent separation.

The programme, which aired in 1995 as part of long-running investigative journalism series Panorama, was watched by nearly 23 million viewers in the UK and, at the time, the BBC hailed the interview as the “scoop of a generation.”

However, an independent inquiry into the way the interview was secured by former Justice of the Supreme Court Lord Dyson found Bashir guilty of deceit and of breaching BBC editorial conduct to obtain the interview.

Davie today issued a statement saying the BBC will never show the programme again and nor will it license the piece or parts of it to other broadcasters.

The statement also included a public apology and said “substantial damages” are being paid to former royal nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke, now Alexandra Pettifer. The corporation also apologised to the Prince of Wales and to Diana’s sons, the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, for the way in which she was deceived and the subsequent impact on all their lives.

“It is a matter of great regret that the BBC did not get to the facts in the immediate aftermath of the programme when there were warning signs that the interview might have been obtained improperly. Instead, as the Duke of Cambridge himself put it, the BBC failed to ask the tough questions. Had we done our job properly, Princess Diana would have known the truth during her lifetime. We let her, the Royal Family and our audiences down,” said Davie.

“Now we know about the shocking way that the interview was obtained I have decided that the BBC will never show the programme again; nor will we license it in whole or part to other broadcasters. It does, of course, remain part of the historical record and there may be occasions in the future when it will be justified for the BBC to use short extracts for journalistic purposes, but these will be few and far between and will need to be agreed at executive committee level and set in the full context of what we now know about the way the interview was obtained. I would urge others to exercise similar restraint,” Davie said.

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