Jonathan Dimbleby has criticised Martin Bashir over using alleged ‘deception and lies’ to secure his 1995 Princess Diana interview
Veteran broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby has openly slammed Martin Bashir over using alleged ‘deception and lies’ to secure an explosive interview with the ‘troubled’ Princess Diana in 1995.
The 76-year-old journalist, who hosted Radio 4’s Any Questions until stepping down last year, made the comments in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph about the ‘bizarre and awful story of Martin Bashir’s insinuating himself into the confidence of a troubled woman’.
When Bashir’s headline-making interview with Diana was broadcast 25 years ago, she revealed intimate details about her life with Prince Charles, including ‘there were three of us in this marriage,’ referring to his relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles.
Watched by 23 million people, the interview made headlines around the world and sent seismic shockwaves through the royal family.
It has been alleged however that Bashir won the trust of the late royal through his use of questionable methods, including producing fake bank statements showing payments of thousands of pounds from newspapers to ‘traitors’ allegedly ‘spying’ on the Spencer family.
In recent allegations also made by her brother, Earl Spender, Bashir is said to have played on Princess Diana’s paranoia by telling her lies about the Queen’s health, Prince Charles being ‘in love’ with William and Harry’s nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke and Diana’s staff betraying her to MI5 and newspapers during his attempt to secure the interview.
A BBC inquiry will open into the methods used by Martin Bashir to secure his interview
Earlier this week, the BBC said it would open a fully independent inquiry into the matter.
A former investigation into the fake bank statements allegation exonerated Bashir but declared that Matt Wiessler, the graphic designer involved in making the phoney documents, ‘will not work for the corporation again’.
The 1996 probe focused on the use of fake bank statements to gain Diana’s trust. It was effectively ended by a handwritten letter from the princess, which supposedly said she was happy with Mr Bashir’s conduct.
Almost 23 million people tuned in to hear Diana talk about her marriage with Prince Charles
The corporation had said a copy of the note was no longer in its possession and could not be produced for a 2007 Freedom of Information request – but announced it had been recovered on Friday.
The BBC has said the note confirms the princess had not seen the false financial documents ahead of her 1995 Panorama interview and they played no part in her decision to speak on camera.
Nevertheless, Dimbleby – the son of iconic broadcaster Richard Dimbleby – welcomed the new inquiry and questioned Bashir’s handling of Diana, who was known to have emotional issues.
Diana famously revealed during her interview with Bashir that ‘there were three of us in this marriage’, referring to Camilla Parker-Bowles
He said: ‘If you know someone who is weak and vulnerable for whatever reason, you must not exploit that unless there is a massively bigger public interest at stake.
‘You simply should never do that. She [Diana] was vulnerable. He [Bashir] might well have thought that she was susceptible to doing an interview because – as we now know – [Andrew Morton’s] book about Diana had come out, on which she had collaborated.’
Dimbleby, who interviewed the Prince of Wales in 1994 for ITV’s Charles: The Private Man, The Public Face, when he opened up about his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, added: ‘It can be done by a variety of means. But none of them should involve deception and lies.’
A month after her interview, the Queen urged the separated couple to divorce, which they did in 1996.
Just one year later, Diana died in a car crash in Paris, aged 36.
Dimbleby said Bashir should have taken greater care over people with known emotional vulnerabilities, such as the late Princess Diana