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Explosive 1995 Princess Diana interview under investigation again

December 08, 2020 | 09:25

The BBC is reopening an investigation into how it obtained an explosive 1995 interview with Princess Diana that lifted the lid on her troubled marriage to Prince Charles.

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The 1995 interview, in which Diana famously said “there were three of us in this marriage” — referring to Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles — was watched by millions of people and sent shockwaves through the monarchy. Photo: BC Panaroma

The BBC is reopening an investigation into how it obtained an explosive 1995 interview with Princess Diana that lifted the lid on her troubled marriage to Prince Charles.

Many people think BBC got Diana to agree to the interview under false pretenses. Bashir has long been alleged to have used forged documents that suggested the palace staff were working against Princess Diana and being paid to spy on her, CNN anchor and correspondent Max Foster reported.

With a new director-general at the BBC, those allegations are being revisited. It couldn't come at a more inconvenient time for the media company: BBC is currently focusing on negotiating a future funding package with the British government. The outlet's publicly funded model faces growing scrutiny, including from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

"The media landscape has changed beyond recognition in the 25 years since Diana sat down with Bashir," Foster pointed out.

But BBC's Director-General Tim Davie is dedicated to investigating the circumstances of the interview. A retired senior judge will lead the probe, according to CNN.

"We will do everything possible to get to the bottom of this," Davie said in a statement.

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Many people think BBC got Diana to agree to the interview under false pretenses. Photo: BBC

Matt Weissler, who was a graphic designer for BBC at the time, admitted to mocking up bank statements after Bashir reached out to him and said he needed "some bank statements." Princess Diana's brother Charles Spencer claims that Bashir tricked him by showing him the false bank statements, prompting him to introduce the journalist to his sister.

"The whole premise of the interview was set up on false and dodgy grounds," Richard Kay, a reporter at the Daily Mail, said.

Buckingham Palace was blindsided by the 1995 interview, according to Charles Anson, the queen's press secretary at the time.

"There wasn't much that we could say," Anson told CNN.

But palace staff were instructed to support the princess, Foster reported.

Shortly after the interview, in 1996, BBC launched an internal inquiry and concluded that documents had been forged but didn't play a role in Diana's decision to participate in the interview.

Bashir has not defended himself publicly, and he did not respond to CNN's request for comment. He is currently on leave, recovering from heart surgery and complications from Covid-19, according to a statement from BBC.

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FIn this file photo dated Nov. 7, 1985, Britain's Princess Diana wears the Spencer tiara as she and Prince Charles attend state dinner at Government House in Adelaide, Austraila. Photo: AP

Earlier, AP said Prince William has “tentatively welcomed” the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the interview with his mother.

William, who is second in line to the throne, said in a statement that the probe is “a step in the right direction.” He added that it “should help establish the truth behind the actions” that led to the interview as well as “subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time.”

The 1995 interview, in which Diana famously said “there were three of us in this marriage” — referring to Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles — was watched by millions of people and sent shockwaves through the monarchy.

Diana divorced from Charles in 1996 and died in a Paris car crash in 1997 as she was pursued by paparazzi. Charles married Camilla, now the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005./.

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