BBC investigating as ‘seriously unwell’ Bashir ‘photographed after visiting takeaway’
Written by Rother Radio News on 08/11/2020
The BBC says it will investigate after a photo emerged reportedly showing journalist Martin Bashir following an alleged visit to a takeaway and wine shop, despite the corporation saying he was too ill to respond to claims made by Princess Diana’s brother.
The Mail on Sunday published the image, which it said was taken on Friday evening outside the 57-year-old’s north London home.
It comes amidst allegations made by the late princess’ sibling, Earl Spencer, that he was shown false financial documents by then-Panorama reporter Bashir to gain access to her prior to her bombshell TV interview on the current affairs programme in 1995.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the corporation said: “The BBC has made clear it will investigate the issues raised and that this will be independent. We will set out the terms of reference in due course. We will do everything possible to get to the bottom of this.
“Martin Bashir is signed off work by his doctors as he is currently recovering from quadruple heart bypass surgery and has significant complications from having contracted COVID-19 earlier in the year.”
The BBC has already apologised for Bashir faking two bank statements, which Earl Spencer says the journalist used to help land his interview with Diana 25 years ago.
The corporation has insisted the statements played “no part in her decision to take part in the interview”.
The broadcast exclusive sent shockwaves through the monarchy due to Diana’s comments about the state of her marriage to Prince Charles.
But now the earl has shared with the Daily Mail notes of his meeting with Bashir and Diana in 1995.
He says the notes are contemporaneous and document a string of false claims allegedly made by the reporter.
This included the bogus allegations that Diana was under surveillance; that her bodyguard was plotting against her, and close friends were betraying her; and that MI6 had recorded Prince Charles and his private secretary planning the “end game”.
They were apparently designed to play to the paranoia of the princess, who feared she was being deceived by her aides and in-laws.
While Earl Spencer told the Mail he concluded Bashir was a fantasist and apologised to his sister for wasting her time, unbeknown to him, Diana kept in touch with Bashir and two months later the explosive “there are three of us in this marriage” interview was broadcast.
Bashir, 57, and now the BBC’s religion editor, is seriously unwell with COVID-related complications and is not in a position to respond to the earl’s allegations, the corporation has said.
In a series of tweets posted earlier this month, Earl Spencer said the broadcaster was “incapable of honestly facing up to the ugly truth of this matter”.
The head of a Westminster committee has told Sky News that the earl’s latest allegations are “deeply disturbing”.
Tory MP Julian Knight, chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said: “This is a very complex and deeply disturbing tale and it is important for public confidence in BBC journalism that a thorough, urgent and independent investigation is carried out and my committee will be watching developments very closely indeed.”
An internal inquiry by the corporation in 1996 examined claims Bashir had used false financial documents, purporting to show a then member of the earl’s staff was leaking stories, as a way to persuade the princess to talk.
The BBC maintains there is a written note from Diana – although it no longer has a copy – saying she had not seen the false bank statements, and they played no part in her decision to give the interview.
The corporation has previously said in a statement that Bashir admitted commissioning the mocked-up bank documents and it is understood the journalist was found to have “done wrong” at the end of the process, but it is not known what sanction, if any, he faced.
In an earlier statement, a BBC spokeswoman highlighted an apology the earl has received from its director-general Tim Davie over the mocked-up documents.
© Sky News 2020