Lord Hall is ‘worried’ he could lose role as chairman of the National Gallery

Lord Hall of Birkenhead, 70, is chairman of the National Gallery (where he is pictured last year)

Lord Hall of Birkenhead, 70, is chairman of the National Gallery (where he is pictured last year)

Lord Hall of Birkenhead, 70, is chairman of the National Gallery (where he is pictured last year) 

Former BBC Director General Lord Hall today said he was ‘wrong’ to give Martin Bashir ‘the benefit of the doubt’ as a bombshell inquiry exposed the depths the shamed reporter went to to secure his exclusive interview with Princess Diana. 

The judge-led inquiry – which has now published its findings – concluded that Mr Bashir, 58, ’employed deceitful methods’ and ‘breached’ guidelines to secure his famous interview with the royal. 

Lord Hall has now apologised and said he accepts the 1996 BBC inquiry into how Panorama secured its interview ‘fell well short of what was required’ and he was ‘wrong to give Mr Bashir the benefit of the doubt’. 

Neither Lord Hall nor the National Gallery has yet commented about his future at the institution.  

Lord Dyson, the former master of the rolls and head of civil justice, was appointed to look into the circumstances surrounding the explosive 1995 sit-down, which famously featured Diana saying: ‘Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.’

The judge said: ‘The report demonstrates, I believe, that this has been the thorough and fair investigation I set out to do. All key individuals gave comprehensive testimony and I am grateful for their cooperation.

‘It enabled my investigation to establish facts based on evidence and for me to draw the detailed conclusions that have been set out today.’ 

The findings could now pave the way for huge damages claims from BBC and royal staff who lost their positions as a result of the explosive interview, royal staff claim, with one source calling the case the corporation’s ‘phone hacking moment’.

Lord Hall has only been with the National Gallery for a year, and last month revealed major plans to turn the attraction into a ‘global digital institution’ that would appeal to the younger generation. The i reported that he is now concerned about his future.

Lord Dyson was commissioned six months ago to examine whether Princess Diana would have given the historic 1995 interview had it not been for Mr Bashir's underhand tactics

Lord Dyson was commissioned six months ago to examine whether Princess Diana would have given the historic 1995 interview had it not been for Mr Bashir's underhand tactics

Lord Dyson was commissioned six months ago to examine whether Princess Diana would have given the historic 1995 interview had it not been for Mr Bashir’s underhand tactics

Earl Spencer, whose notes helped sink Martin Bashir, today tweeted a photo of him with his older sister Diana in a poignant tribute ahead of a damning report into the BBC Panorama scandal

Earl Spencer, whose notes helped sink Martin Bashir, today tweeted a photo of him with his older sister Diana in a poignant tribute ahead of a damning report into the BBC Panorama scandal

Earl Spencer, whose notes helped sink Martin Bashir, today tweeted a photo of him with his older sister Diana in a poignant tribute ahead of a damning report into the BBC Panorama scandal

On just one sheet, toxic accusations that made her suspect her own team 

Pictured, Spencer kept detailed notes

Pictured, Spencer kept detailed notes

Pictured, Spencer kept detailed notes

1) Bashir’s opening gambit that three members of MI6 had told him Prince Charles’s private secretary Richard Aylard was ‘orchestrating’ things surrounding Diana. This involved Ken Wharfe, Diana’s former bodyguard, described as ‘scum’.

2) Aylard, it was claimed, had been paid by the broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby. A decision to reinvent the prince had been taken by aides two years earlier. A year later this allegedly included attacking both Diana and the Spencer family.

3) MI6 agents had recordings of Prince Charles and Aylard talking in which the phrase ‘the end game’ was uttered, thought to refer to a divorce between the prince and princess. Diana also said she would not agree to a divorce.

4) Spencers’ reputation to be destroyed. In another remark recorded by Lord Spencer, Bashir claimed Prince Charles wanted Spencer’s then wife, Victoria, dead. Diana meanwhile would be forced to move to America — possibly with her brother. 

5) This relates to the stories during 1995 of the close friendship between Diana and the married England rugby captain Will Carling. Spencer notes Bashir’s assertion that the newspaper stories had been ‘fed’ by Carling’s wife Julia.

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The inquiry found Martin Bashir commissioned fake bank statements and used ‘deceitful behaviour’ in a ‘serious breach’ of the BBC’s producer guidelines to secure the interview.

Tony Hall led a previous internal inquiry that found Bashir was a ‘honest man’, but today he admitted his conclusion was wrong while the BBC also apologised.

Lord Dyson, the former master of the rolls and head of civil justice, was appointed to look into the circumstances surrounding the explosive 1995 sit-down, which famously featured Diana saying: ‘Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.’

A report on the six-month inquiry was published at 2pm and concluded that Mr Bashir breached the BBC’s editorial rules and Lord Hall has been heavily criticised.

Bashir, who was the BBC News religion editor and announced last week he was leaving on health grounds, is accused of mocking up bank statements allegedly used to gain access to her brother and Diana, and then spinning a slew of lies to hoodwink her into the interview that would hasten the end of her marriage and the removal of her HRH status. One of Diana’s friends claimed today she believes she would still be alive if she hadn’t spoken to Bashir.

BBC Director-General, Tim Davie said: ‘The BBC accepts Lord Dyson’s findings in full. Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was keen on the idea of an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect. We are very sorry for this. Lord Dyson has identified clear failings.

‘While today’s BBC has significantly better processes and procedures, those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview being secured in this way. The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew.

‘While the BBC cannot turn back the clock after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology. The BBC offers that today.’ 

 

Last November the BBC commissioned former Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson (pictured) to probe allegations that the corporation covered up the trail of deceit by its reporter

Timeline of the Diana-Panorama scandal

1986: Martin Bashir joins BBC as news correspondent and works on programmes including Songs of Praise, Public Eye and Panorama.

November 1995: The famous interview with Princess Diana turns Mr Bashir into TV’s hottest property.

1996: The Mail on Sunday reveals claims that Mr Bashir used faked bank documents to persuade Diana to talk. The BBC holds internal inquiry dismissed as a ‘whitewash’.

1999: Moves to ITV’s Tonight with Trevor McDonald. His scoops include interview with Stephen Lawrence suspects and documentary on Michael Jackson.

May 2004: Quits to host ABC’s Nightline in US. Suspended in 2008 after making ‘Asian babes’ remark at Asian American Journalists convention.

2010: Joins NBC News as an MSNBC anchor. He resigns in 2013 after controversial remarks about vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

2016: BBC re-hires Mr Bashir as religious affairs correspondent. He is later promoted to religion editor.

October 2020: Channel 4 documentary alleges there was ‘elaborate plot’ by Mr Bashir to trick Diana into talking.

November 7: The Daily Mail reveals a shocking dossier held by Diana’s brother Earl Spencer revealing alleged royal smears, lies and tricks that Mr Bashir used to land his interview.

November 18: BBC orders six-month inquiry by former judge Lord Dyson.

May 14, 2021: The BBC announces Mr Bashir has quit on health grounds.

May 20: The report is published.  

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Earl Spencer, who has long campaigned for justice for his older sibling, shared an image of himself and his sister Diana, Princess of Wales as children ahead of the publication of Lord Dyson’s report.

He posted the black and white archive image on Twitter, alongside the poignant words: ‘Some bonds go back a very long way.’ The photograph shows the siblings sat side by side in the summer sun, with a young Charles Spencer wearing trunks and Diana appearing to be in a swimsuit.

Handwritten notes taken by the Princess of Wales’ brother Earl Spencer during a 90-minute secret meeting with him, Bashir and his sister at a flat in Knightsbridge in 1995 blew open the case. 

The eight pages from a lined notepad revealed that the BBC reporter made a series of false claims that helped him land the interview of the century where the Princess of Wales opened up on her broken marriage with Charles.

Earl Spencer’s records show that Bashir allegedly claimed that Diana’s private letters were being opened, her car tracked and phoned tapped with her bodyguard plotting against her, and close friends were betraying her.

The notes, handed to Lord Dyson, also contained allegations MI6 had recorded Prince Charles and his private secretary planning the ‘end game’ – an extraordinary and false hint the heir to the throne was plotting to ‘destroy’ the Spencers and force them to flee to the US.

Earl Spencer says that there were 32 jaw-dropping smears peddled by Martin Bashir , but the journalist, who quit the BBC last week, is understood to have denied this to inquiry chief Lord Dyson, and may have argued that some of these claims came from Diana’s mouth. 

The report is expected to find that Martin Bashir deployed 'deceitful methods' to secure his BBC interview

The report is expected to find that Martin Bashir deployed 'deceitful methods' to secure his BBC interview

Charles Spencer's detailed notes. The manila file contains notes of every meeting he had with Bashir, the logs of phone calls the BBC man made along with the faxes, the letters and even the gushing thank you cards that the reporter sent him

Charles Spencer's detailed notes. The manila file contains notes of every meeting he had with Bashir, the logs of phone calls the BBC man made along with the faxes, the letters and even the gushing thank you cards that the reporter sent him

The report is expected to find that Martin Bashir (left) deployed ‘deceitful methods’ to secure his BBC interview. Pictured right: Charles Spencer’s detailed notes

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