It’s been 25 years since journalist Martin Bashir interviewed Princess Diana on U.K. broadcaster BBC’s Panorama program in 1995. The resulting interview, in which the princess revealed her troubled relationship with Prince Charles, grabbed headlines around the world, but its legacy is now being questioned.
A documentary, “The Diana Interview: Revenge of a Princess,” that aired Nov. 9 on rival U.K. broadcaster ITV now alleges that Bashir may have used forged bank documents that may have helped to secure access to the Princess. At the center of the storm is graphic designer Matt Wiessler, who has said that he was asked to create the documents by Bashir and was “made the scapegoat” by a 1996 BBC enquiry into the interview.
“It’s a bit like blaming the pen for writing a nasty letter,” Wiessler told the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ program on Tuesday. “I don’t know how you can plausibly tell a story that a graphic designer is to blame for using copied documents as forgery, and I’ve been living with this for 25 years.”
Wiessler says work dried up for him after the enquiry cleared Bashir, but left him out in the cold. The enquiry was headed by Tony Hall, who would go on to become BBC director-general and was recently succeeded by BBC Studios boss Tim Davie.
These new details came to light as part of the research conducted by journalist Andy Webb, who wrote and directed “Diana: The Truth Behind the Interview,” a documentary that aired on another U.K. broadcaster, Channel 4, on Oct. 21. Webb had requested documents pertaining to the Panorama interview under Freedom of Information of rules, in 2007, and was finally granted access to them 48 hours before his documentary aired.
The forged statements allegedly showed that two senior courtiers were being paid by security services for information on Diana. The statements were seen by Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, who has said that they were the basis of him introducing Bashir to his sister.
In recent weeks, Spencer has been calling for an enquiry into the matter and has been in touch with Davie. “If it were not for me seeing these statements, I would not have introduced Bashir to my sister,” Spencer wrote to Davie in October.
“The person that needs to come forward is Martin Bashir,” Wiessler told Radio 4. “He’s the only one that has the answers.”
However, Bashir, now the BBC’s religion editor, is not available. “Martin Bashir is signed off work by his doctors — he is currently recovering from quadruple heart bypass surgery and has significant complications from having contracted COVID-19 earlier in the year,” a BBC spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, the BBC is ordering a fresh enquiry. “The BBC is taking this very seriously and we want to get to the truth,” Davie said on Monday. “We are in the process of commissioning a robust and independent investigation.”