Former BBC head resigns from National Gallery over Princess Diana scandal

Lord Hall was director of news when Martin Bashir secured an interview with the royal

Tony Hall, a former BBC chief, has resigned as chairman of Britain’s National Gallery. AFP
Tony Hall, a former BBC chief, has resigned as chairman of Britain’s National Gallery. AFP

The former director general of the BBC has left his role at Britain’s National Gallery over the inquiry into the broadcasters 1995 interview with Princess Diana.

Lord Tony Hall was director of news when Martin Bashir secured an interview with Princess Diana using forged documents.

Lord Hall was criticised for his “woefully ineffective” probe into the deception. On Saturday he resigned from his position as chairman of the National Gallery, saying continuing in the role “would be a distraction”.

“I am very sorry for the events of 25 years ago and I believe leadership means taking responsibility,” he said.

Lord Hall had been a trustee of the National Gallery since November 2019, and became chairman of the board in July 2020.

This week an inquiry found Mr Bashir had used deceit to secure the explosive 1995 interview with Princess Diana.

John Dyson, the former senior judge who led the inquiry, concluded that Mr Bashir had shown Diana’s brother Charles Spencer fake bank statements to persuade Earl Spencer to introduce his sister to him.

He said the BBC “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”.

“The indirect and real target of Mr Bashir’s deceptions was Princess Diana,” he wrote.

In the Panorama interview, a scoop for the broadcaster, Diana said “there were three of us in this marriage”, triggering a crisis for the royal family. The princess also opened up about her struggle to adapt to royal life and her battle with bulimia.

The BBC made a “full and unconditional apology” for the “clear failings” identified in the report.

I am very sorry for the events of 25 years ago and I believe leadership means taking responsibility

Mr Bashir, who stepped down as the BBC’s religion editor last Friday, apologised for the faking of bank documents but said he believed Princess Diana would have agreed to the interview anyway.

“The bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview,” he said.

“Evidence handed to the inquiry in her own handwriting (and published alongside the report today) unequivocally confirms this, and other compelling evidence presented to Lord Dyson reinforces it.”

On Saturday, Earl Spencer revealed he had contacted detectives to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Scotland Yard has said it is “assessing” the contents of the inquiry in case it contains new evidence.

Updated: May 22, 2021 10:34 PM

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