An independent investigation has found that the BBC news organization used deceitful methods to land its 1995 interview with Princess Diana.
A report released Thursday found that journalist Martin Bashir commissioned fake bank statements that he showed Earl Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother, purporting to show that media were paying associates of Diana's family.
By showing Spencer the fake bank statements, Bashir “deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana,” the report said.
“By gaining access to Princess Diana in this way, Mr Bashir was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview,” it continued.
Bashir asked Matt Weissler, a graphic designer for the network, to mock up the statements, the probe found.
The report found that Bashir lied when he originally told superiors that he hadn’t shown fake statements to anyone. It further panned his accounts of the 1995 events as “incredible, unreliable and, in some cases, dishonest.”
In a statement to BBC, Bashir apologized for faking the documents, but said they “had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview.”
“Evidence handed to the inquiry in her own handwriting (and published alongside the report today) unequivocally confirms this, and other compelling evidence presented to [former judge] Lord Dyson reinforces it.”
BBC Director-General Tim Davie said in a statement that “it is clear that the process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect. We are very sorry for this.”
The BBC interview, in which Diana detailed a breakdown in her marriage and struggles, landed around 22.8 million viewers.
The interview landed the network a number of awards at the time. However, the BBC said “we do not believe it is acceptable to retain these awards because of how the interview was obtained.”
The interview also brought Bashir to international prominence, winning him a BAFTA TV award.
Bashir left the BBC last week for health reasons.