BBC investigating editorial practices after critical inquiry into Diana interview
The BBC is reviewing its editorial practices after a recent investigation found that the news organization covered up “deceitful behavior” used by former journalist Martin Bashir to land an interview with Princess Diana in 1995.
“We also acknowledge that audiences had a right to expect better from the BBC,” the network’s board said Monday about the report’s findings. “It is right that we review the effectiveness of the BBC’s editorial policies and governance in detail.”
The May 20 report authored by retired Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson found the BBC had covered up deceptive tactics used by Bashir — including having bank statements forged — to secure the interview with the princess of Wales, who died in 1997.
Millions of viewers watched Diana talk with Bashir on the BBC show “Panorama” about her infidelity as well as that of her husband, Prince Charles. The interview raised Bashir’s prominence as a journalist and he later won the BBC a BAFTA TV award.
The BBC has since said it will return the award.
There was “no doubt … that the practices adopted in advance of the interview were entirely unacceptable in any ethical news journalism broadcasting entity, and that was a clear failure,” said Richard Sharp, chairman of the BBC, about the results of the investigation.
“It’s also clear that the approach to reviewing the programme and the practices failed,” he added.
Bashir left the network May 14 for health reasons, a few days before the report was published.
Tony Hall, who was a BBC director when the 1995 interview aired, resigned from his position as board chairman of Britain’s National Gallery after the report came out.
“I am very sorry for the events of 25 years ago, and I believe leadership means taking responsibility,” Hall said.