Other newspaper reporters also sensed something fishy. In March 1996, The Mail on Sunday, tipped off by the graphic designer, wrote to Earl Spencer asking him for comment on a story about Bashir’s forged documents. He declined to comment, as he didn’t want to undermine his sister’s interview.
Then, The Mail on Sunday approached the BBC. When the BBC began questioning Bashir about the allegations again, he eventually admitted that he had shown the documents to Lord Spencer. Still, Bashir was never officially reprimanded, nor was any wrongdoing publicly confessed. Lord Dyson believes, at this point, the network began “covering up.”
On April 7, 1996, The Mail on Sunday ran an explosive story: “Diana’s BBC Man and Fake Bank Statements.” Yet with no admission from the BBC or comment from Spencer, they were unable to prove he or Diana ever saw them. The story fizzled out over time.
It would be almost 25 years later, in October 2020, when two Sunday Times reporters finally cracked the case. “It was hailed as the greatest tell-all interview of the 20th century, but 25 years after Diana, Princess of Wales bared her soul on Panorama, fresh allegations have emerged that the BBC obtained the scoop under a false pretext and by using fake bank statements,” they wrote. “Martin Bashir, the journalist who interviewed Diana in 1995 after the collapse of her marriage to Prince Charles, has also been accused of exploiting the princess’s fears that her private conversations were being bugged by the secret services to garner a secret meeting.” Amid the outrage this generated in the wider British press, the BBC finally announced its independent inquiry by Dyson.
After Dyson’s damning report was published in May 2021, the BBC admitted to its wrongdoing, writing apologies to Prince William, Prince Harry, Prince Charles, Jephson, Earl Spencer, and the graphic designer. The network also agreed to pay damages to former nanny Tiggy Legge Bourke after Bashir falsely suggested she had an affair with Prince Charles. Other settlements were made to Jephson, Waller, and the graphic designer.
Diana’s sons, in their public statements, expressed their anger: “It is my firm view that this Panorama program 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 commercialized by the BBC and others,” said Prince William. Harry blamed it for his mother’s death: “She was resilient, brave, and unquestionably honest. The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life.”