BBC Apologizes for Deceit Used to Land Famous Princess Diana Interview

The BBC has apologized to the former private secretary of Princess Diana after an inquiry found that the news organization covered up "deceitful behavior" used by Martin Bashir to get his famous 1995 interview with the Princess of Wales.

The news organization will be paying Patrick Jephson damages in a settlement related to the incident, The Guardian reported.

"The BBC apologizes unreservedly to Commander Jephson for the harm caused to him and has paid his legal costs. The BBC has also paid Commander Jephson a substantial sum in damages, which he intends to donate in full to British charities nominated by him," the BBC said in a statement.

The news outlet's interview with the princess was widely watched and controversial for her candid comments about the royal family. She admitted during her conversation with Bashir that she had had an affair, spoke about her mental health and commented on the affair her then-husband, Prince Charles, was having with his current wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, the BBC reported.

But after the interview aired, some grew concerned about how Bashir had gained such close access to Diana.

BBC Apology
The BBC has apologized to the former private secretary of Princess Diana after an inquiry found that the news organization covered up "deceitful behavior" used by Martin Bashir to get his famous 1995 interview with the Princess of Wales. Above, the BBC sign is seen outside the entrance to the headquarters of the media organization in London on July 19, 2017. Frank Augstein/AP Photo

The report on the independent inquiry into the interview, conducted by former high court judge Lord Dyson, said that Bashir had asked a graphic artist working for the BBC to produce fake bank statements, according to The Guardian.

Those fake statements seemed to show that a former staff member of Earl Spencer, Diana's brother, had received payments from a newspaper group, The Guardian reported. Bashir showed them to Spencer to try to gain his trust, playing off his fears that the staff member was selling information to the media, so that he could get to Diana.

Bashir has maintained that the documents had "no bearing" on Diana's decision to grant the interview.

"After more than 25 years, it is a relief finally to reach a conclusion to this painful episode," Jephson said in a statement.

"I am grateful to Lord Dyson and the journalists whose tenacity has brought the truth to light, and I now look forward to donating the damages I have been awarded to Ty Hafan, the hospice for children in Wales, in memory of the late Diana, Princess of Wales," he added.

The BBC conducted an internal inquiry after the forged bank statements came to light in 1996, but it cleared the involved parties of wrongdoing, the news organization reported. Lord Dyson's report said that the internal probe was not a sufficient investigation because it did not interview Spencer or view Bashir's account of the events with "necessary skepticism and caution," even though he admitted to having the bank statements mocked up.

The report also said that the BBC covered up information about how Bashir was able to obtain the interview with Diana.

"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," the BBC said in its statement.

Update 03/17/22, 12:23 p.m. ET: This story was updated with additional information and background.