BBC Apologises, Pays 'Substantial Damages' to Princess Di's Private Secretary Over Panorama Tell-All

© Sputnik ScreenshotDiana, Princess of Wales in the 20 November 1995 interview for the BBC's "Panorama"
Diana, Princess of Wales in the 20 November 1995 interview for the BBC's Panorama - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.03.2022
Lord Dyson’s investigation last year concluded that journalist Martin Bashir committed a “serious breach” of BBC rules when interviewing the late Diana, Princess of Wales, resorting to fake bank statements to gain the trust of her brother, Earl Charles Spencer.
The BBC has "unreservedly" apologised to Diana, Princess of Wales' private secretary, Patrick Jephson, over the way Martin Bashir obtained his 1995 interview.
"The BBC and Commander Patrick Jephson have reached a settlement following publication of the Dyson Report. Commander Jephson was the Private Secretary to Diana, Princess of Wales. The BBC accepts and acknowledges that serious harm was caused to Commander Jephson as a result of the circumstances in which the 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales was obtained, which have become apparent as a result of the Dyson Report," said a BBC statement.
The BBC also acknowledged the “harm” Jephson was caused, paid his legal costs, as well as a “substantial sum in damages, which he intends to donate in full to British charities nominated by him."

‘Scoop of a Lifetime’

Princess Diana's interview with Martin Bashir for Panorama in 1995 – a huge scoop for the BBC – was the first time a serving royal had spoken with such candour about life inside the palace. Princess Diana had opened up about her bulimia, her struggle with media attention, her experience with self-harm, and the infidelity of her husband Prince Charles, saying: "There were three of us in this marriage."
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This was seen as a hint at Prince Charles' affair with Camilla Parker Bowles (now his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall). The princess also confessed to her own extramarital affair with a cavalry officer named James Lifford Hewitt.
However, Princess Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, questioned the reporter's tactics to get the sitdown. In 1996, the BBC conducted its own investigation, which exonerated the journalist. As Earl Spencer went public with his allegations, an independent inquiry conducted by former Supreme Court Justice Lord Dyson and published in May 2021 revealed that Martin Bashir had acted in a "deceitful" way.
Pedestrians walk past a BBC logo at Broadcasting House in London, Britain January 29, 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.12.2021
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He provided false bank statements to Earl Spencer, claiming that royal courtiers had been paid by security services to spy on the Princess of Wales. The statements purported to show such payments made into accounts of Alan Waller, a former employee of Earl Spencer, Commander Patrick Jephson, Diana’s private secretary, and Commander Richard Aylard, private secretary to the Prince of Wales.
By doing this, Martin Bashir was able to gain Earl Spencer's trust, and accordingly, the journalist was introduced to the royal, according to the probe.
The inquiry also revealed that the BBC "fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark" when it "covered up" what it had learned about Bashir’s actions.
Patrick Jephson, who was Princess Diana’s private secretary for eight years, had left his job after the “devastating, and life-changing” scandal.
After the report was published, the BBC issued a public apology to Princess Diana’s family.
Martin Bashir said he regretted faking documents, describing it as "a stupid thing to do", but added at the time that his actions did not affect the royal’s own decision to be interviewed.
 Britain's Diana, Princess of Wales, arrives at the Royal Albert Hall for a gala performance of Swan Lake in this Tuesday June 3, 1997 file photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.11.2019
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Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced a year after the interview was broadcast. Diana died tragically in a car crash in France in 1997, with probes conducted by French and British investigators faulting the driver, who was speeding in a tunnel in order to escape paparazzi, hot on their heels, and was also intoxicated with drugs and alcohol.
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