Martin Bashir’s disgraced Diana interview features in new documentary ‘The Princess’ to be aired on Sky next month – despite Prince William’s wishes that it ‘should never be aired again’
- The BBC stated this month that it will never air or licence the interview again
- Martin Bashir used false bank statements to gain access to Diana and lied to her
- Prince William and Prince Harry have condemned the interview’s ‘false narrative’
- The Princess will air on August 14 and is made from contemporaneous footage
A documentary of Princess Diana‘s life is to be aired on Sky next month and is set to include footage of her interview with former BBC journalist Martin Bashir – despite Prince William arguing it ‘should never be aired again’.
The Princess, a documentary produced by Lightbox in collaboration with streaming service HBO and Sky, has already been shown in cinemas and is set to air on Sky on August 14.
The interview, originally broadcast by Panorama in 1995, has since been debunked after it was revealed interviewer Martin Bashir gained access and trust of Diana using falsified information.
It was watched by 23 million people and saw Diana declare ‘there were three of us in this marriage’, causing a worldwide media frenzy.
It is thought to have contributed to her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996 – a year prior to her fatal car crash in the Tunnel de l’Alma in Paris.
Bashir showed Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, false bank statements which suggested his former head of security had been receiving money from tabloids and the security services to spy on his sister.
Diana during her interview with BBC journalist Bashir, who was later found to have tricked her by peddling a string of lies
Sky says the documentary will tell Princess Diana’s story exclusively through contemporaneous archive creating a bold and immersive narrative of her life and death
Martin Bashir was found to have shown Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, false bank statements to gain access to the family
Prince William has previously been an outspoken critic of the interview being aired by broadcasters
Once he had gained access, Bashir told Diana a string of lies, convincing her that Prince Charles was having an affair with then royal nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke – now Alexandra Pettifer – and that she became pregnant and had an abortion as a result.
Prince William has previously been an outspoken critic of the interview being aired by broadcasters.
In May last year, he said: ‘It is my firm view that this programme holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again.
‘It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialised by the BBC and others.’
He added that he was ‘most saddened’ Diana never learned she had been deceived.
He said his mother was failed ‘not just by a rogue reporter’ but by BBC bosses.
Meanwhile Prince Harry blamed a toxic media culture for his mother’s death.
The Prince and Princess of Wales at Buckingham Palace after their wedding at St Paul’s Cathedral July 29, 1981
Fourteen years after their wedding, Diana described her marriage as ‘crowded’ in the infamous Panorama interview, believing Prince Charles was having an affair with their then-royal nanny
Former nanny Alexandra Pettifer, better known as Tiggy Legge-Bourke, outside court after the BBC apologised and agreed to pay substantial damages for the false claims made about her in the run up to Bashir’s interview
Prince Harry said last year that his ‘mother lost her life’ because of the ‘toxic media culture’ which led to the interview, while William said the footage should never be aired again
The Duke of Sussex said that the ‘ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices’ which ultimately took his mother’s life.
How the BBC was finally forced to admit Bashir deceit
AUGUST 31, 1995: BBC Panorama journalist Martin Bashir meets Earl Spencer and shows him fake bank statements that freelance designer Matt Wiessler mocked up for him.
SEP 19, 1995: The Earl introduces Bashir to Princess Diana.
NOV 5, 1995: The sensational Panorama interview with Diana is broadcast.
LATE NOVEMBER 1995: Wiessler expresses concern to Panorama’s series producer that the fake bank statements may have played a role in obtaining the interview. Bashir is asked for clarification.
DEC 22, 1995: Bashir passes a note from Diana to his bosses in which she says: ‘I was not shown any documents nor given any information by Martin Bashir that I was not already aware of.’
MAR 23, 1996: Bashir admits to BBC bosses that he had lied about not showing the fake bank statements to anybody. Yet two months later, he is sent a note – signed off by Tony Hall, then head of BBC News – that his dealings with Diana were ‘absolutely straight and fair’.
APR 7, 1996: The Mail on Sunday publishes a story about the fake statements. The BBC denies they were used to obtain the interview, but Hall opens an inquiry.
APR 25, 1996: Hall tells BBC governors that Bashir commissioned fake statements because ‘he wasn’t thinking’, adding: ‘I believe he is, even with this lapse, an honest and honourable man.’ Bashir leaves the BBC, but returns in 2016 as religious affairs editor.
AUG 28, 1996: Diana’s divorce from Prince Charles is finalised.
AUG 31, 1997: Diana dies in a car crash in Paris.
NOV 3, 2020: The Daily Mail publishes a letter written by Earl Spencer in which he accuses the BBC of ‘sheer dishonesty’.
NOV 18, 2020: The BBC asks former Supreme Court Justice Lord Dyson to independently investigate the scandal.
MAY 20, 2021: Lord Dyson’s report condemns Bashir as ‘dishonest’ and criticises Hall’s investigation as ‘flawed’. Prince William condemns the BBC’s ‘incompetence’.
JUL 21, 2022: The BBC pays about £200,000 to royal nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke and admits she was subjected to ‘baseless’ smears by Bashir.
He expressed concern such practices ‘are still widespread today’, adding that it was ‘bigger than one outlet, one network or one publication’.
‘Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed.
‘By protecting her legacy, we protect everyone, and uphold the dignity with which she lived her life,’ he said.
The Metropolitan Police considered whether to launch an investigation into a range of potential offences following a bombshell report by Supreme Court Justice Lord Dyson, including forgery, misconduct in public office and blackmail.
But in September last year, the force said it had ‘not identified evidence of activity that constituted a criminal offence and will therefore be taking no further action’.
Last week the BBC finally paid out around £200,000 to the former nanny in recompense for the smears made against her at the time of the interview.
It has also paid a substantial sum to a journalist who raised concerns over the interview at the time, and lost his job as a result.
Issuing an apology to Ms Pettifer, the BBC pledged to never air or license out footage of the interview again, and urged other broadcasters to show ‘similar restraint.’
A spokesperson for Sky told MailOnline: ‘This feature documentary tells the story of Princess Diana exclusively through archive footage from the time, without commentary from today.
‘As such a pivotal – if deeply unfortunate – moment in her life, this interview is featured briefly as a moment of historical record.’
The new documentary by Lightbox will still air the interview on Sky from August 14.
Some concerns were raised during the 1990s about the false bank statements having led to Bashir receiving an interview with Diana – but in 1996 he was sent a note – signed off by Tony Hall, then head of BBC News – that his dealings with Diana were ‘absolutely straight and fair’.
This was the end of the matter until 2020, when the Daily Mail published renewed revelations about the means used to gain Diana’s trust.
Then, in May 2021, Lord Dyson’s damning report found that an internal inquiry into Bashir in 1996, led by Lord Hall, who was then head of news and current affairs and later became the Corporation’s Director-General, had been woefully ineffective.
Earl Spencer then said he was groomed by disgraced BBC reporter Martin Bashir, as he renewed his demand for Scotland Yard to investigate the broadcaster.
Writing exclusively for The Mail on Sunday, Earl Spencer urged the Metropolitan Police to ‘reconsider their responsibilities’ and launch a probe as he revealed lawyers had told him that ‘unlawful and criminal behaviour’ had been committed by figures at the BBC.
Tunnel de l’Alma in Paris, which was the site of the car accident that killed Princess Diana on August 31, 1997
Concerning the new documentary, Sky said online: ‘The relationship between Diana and Charles, the Prince and Princess of Wales, has been well documented.
‘From their seemingly fairy-tale marriage, to the fractured marriage that followed and ultimately Diana’s tragic and untimely death, her life appears to have been explored in its entirety.
However, The Princess reframes her story by taking an entirely immersive approach, drawing solely from audio and video footage from the time to take audiences back to these era-defining events as they happened, and in doing so, allows the narrative to unfold as if it were in the present.’
The documentary is Academy Award-nominated Ed Perkin, and Sky added it is a ‘fresh and bold account of Diana’s life and death.’