The Duke of Cambridge says that a new investigation into how the BBC secured a bombshell 1995 interview with his mother Princess Diana is a “step in the right direction” as he increased pressure on the broadcaster.
Prince William, weighing into the controversy for the first time, said the investigation should "help establish the truth" into how journalist Martin Bashir won the trust of the Princess of Wales to agree to appear on Panorama, the British current affairs documentary programme.
Bashir is accused of forging documents and using “other deceit” to trick Princess Diana into taking part.
The BBC on Wednesday said a new inquiry led by a former Supreme Court justice would focus on how the broadcaster obtained access to Princess Diana and whether executives covered up any wrongdoing.
Welcoming the inquiry, Prince William said: “The independent investigation is a step in the right direction.
"It should help establish the truth behind the actions that led to the Panorama interview and subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time."
In the interview, the Princess of Wales shocked the world by admitting to an affair and giving intimate details of her failed marriage to Prince Charles.
Speaking of her marriage to the heir to the throne, Princess Diana famously said “there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”.
This month her brother, Earl Spencer, said that Bashir made a series of allegations including that the Princess of Wales was being bugged by the security services and that two senior aides were providing information about her for money.
The Earl said that Bashir had provided fake bank statements to Diana to back up the claim.
Others involved in making the programme, including a former graphic artist who said he had been told to forge the bank statements, came forward to say that the BBC covered up wrongdoing.
Bashir has made no public comment and the BBC said the journalist, who gained global renown from the Princess Diana interview and is currently the corporation’s religion editor, is on sick leave.
The broadcaster said he was recovering from heart surgery and had tested positive for coronavirus.
But photographs, including one of Bashir visiting a takeaway shop this month, raised questions over BBC claims that he was too ill to answer questions.
What will the investigation examine?
The investigation will pose five questions, including:
1. What steps did the BBC and, in particular, Martin Bashir take with a view to obtaining the Panorama interview in 1995? This will include looking at the mocked-up bank statements, alleged payments to members of the royal household, and other issues raised by Earl Spencer.
2. Were those steps appropriate, particularly in regard to the BBC's editorial standards at the time?
3. To what extent did the actions of the BBC and, in particular, Martin Bashir, influence Princess Diana's decision to give an interview?
4. What knowledge did the BBC have in 1995 and 1996 of the relevant evidence, such as the forged bank statements?
5. How effectively did the BBC investigate the circumstances leading to the interview?