BBC exonerates staff over rehiring of Martin Bashir amid Diana allegations

Bashir was appointed religion editor by the broadcaster in 2016

The BBC has cleared senior editorial staff of wrongdoing over the appointment of journalist Martin Bashir as religion editor in 2016.

Earlier this year a report by Lord Dyson found Bashir acted 'dishonestly' when he secured a high profile Panorama interview with Princess Diana in 1995 using forged documents.

But an internal investigation has now concluded those involved in the rehiring of Bashir were not fully aware of the allegations surrounding his conduct.

In his findings, former BBC director Kenny MacQuarrie said Bashir had not been rehired to cover up the events surrounding the Panorama interview and that he had been the most qualified candidate for the job.

"I have no doubt that if any of the individuals involved in the appointment of Martin Bashir in 2016 had been aware of what is now publicly known as a result of the Dyson Report, Martin Bashir would have never been reappointed to the BBC", Mr MacQuarrie said.

According to the report, the religious affairs editor role was advertised internally and there were originally seven internal applications. The interview panel was unanimous in selecting Bashir.

The report concluded the decision to rehire Bashir was “ultimately taken” by then-director of news James Harding and that he did not give “sufficient regard” to the other public controversies the journalist had been involved in.

“Although it is not possible to say whether or not consideration of these matters would have changed the recruitment outcome, I consider that James Harding, as the individual ultimately responsible for the appointment, should have given proper consideration to these matters prior to appointing Martin Bashir,” the document said.

The BBC's director-general Tim Davie promised to reflect on the findings of the inquiry.

"While the report finds processes were largely followed at the time, it is clear we need to reflect on the findings to ensure consistent best practice is applied in our recruitment," he said.

“Finally, it is without doubt that had the organisation been aware of what is now publicly known because of the Dyson Report Martin Bashir would have never been reappointed."

Bashir shot to fame with his sensational BBC interview with Princess Diana that detailed her collapsing marriage to Prince Charles.

He left the BBC in 1998 before moving to the US in 2004 where he worked MSNBC and ABC networks for over a decade.

Bashir resigned from his role at the BBC last month citing health issues.