Princess Diana: Public appeal for information over controversial BBC interview

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read

Watch: Lord Hall ‘looking forward’ to inquiry on Diana interview

The former judge presiding over the new inquiry into Princess Diana’s 1995 Panorama interview has called for evidence as he begins his investigations.

Fresh questions were asked in recent months about the interview, conducted 25 years ago, as the late princess’s brother made allegations about the circumstances surrounding how the BBC got the interview.

Earl Spencer said he was shown forged bank statements which led him to introduce Diana to Martin Bashir, who conducted the interview.

The BBC did investigate forged statements in 1996, during an inquiry into the interview led by Lord Hall.

But the corporation agreed to launch a new investigation after Earl Spencer’s complaint about the interview and what is understood to be different documents to those in the 1996 inquiry.

Lord Dyson has been appointed to head the inquiry, and the website was launched on Thursday.

A message on the website reads: “Lord Dyson wishes to hear from anyone with direct knowledge of the Panorama interview and the circumstances surrounding it.

“If you were involved in these events and have any relevant information, please contact the investigation.”

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Read more: Diana's 'Panorama' interview led 'straight to the night in Paris', former private secretary says

It comes as Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said the force would investigate if needed, but clarified that there had not been a complaint made as yet.

Asked about a potential criminal investigation, Dame Cressida said: “We have not received a complaint from somebody who is giving us any evidence for us to assess.

“So, if they were to, we would of course assess whether any crime has been committed or may appear to have been committed and, if so, whether it is appropriate for us to do an investigation.

“But at this stage, we have not received any such complaints.”

Lord Dyson, former master of the rolls, has appointed Fieldfisher LLP as solicitors in the independent investigation, and the website confirms partner Martin Smith will lead the work.

According to the site, Smith “led a team of solicitors to the Inquest in to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed”.

Martin Bashir interviews Princess Diana in Kensington Palace for the television program Panorama. (Photo by © Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Martin Bashir interviews Princess Diana in Kensington Palace for the television program Panorama in 1995. (Corbis via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 26:  The 9th Earl Spencer Charles Spencer attends the Whole Child International's inaugural gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on October 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Paul Archuleta/WireImage)
The 9th Earl Spencer Charles Spencer in 2017. (Paul Archuleta/WireImage)

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The 1995 Panorama interview sent shockwaves through the Royal Family as Diana said of her relationship with Charles “there were three of us in that marriage”.

It led the Queen to push Charles and Diana to divorce. The couple was separated from 1992, and divorced in 1996.

Diana’s former private secretary Patrick Jephson said he now believed that the interview led “pretty much straight to the night in Paris where Princess Diana was in the hands of people who were unable, properly, to look after her”.

Bashir, who is now the BBC’s religion editor, is reportedly too ill to answer questions, as he deals with complications from coronavirus.

A spokeswoman for the corporation previously said: “A lot has been written and broadcast about the Princess of Wales’s interview in recent weeks. It is important that we have a view of what happened based on the evidence of everyone involved. Clearly that has not yet been able to happen.

“But to be absolutely clear, the BBC is determined to get to the truth of what happened. That’s why we have appointed Lord Dyson to lead a fully independent investigation.

“It is vital that everyone with information shares that with Lord Dyson, so that he can investigate thoroughly and draw his conclusions having heard all the evidence.”