UK PM ‘very concerned’ with BBC over Princess Diana interview
London, May 22 (IANS): UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he was “obviously very concerned” about the findings of the inquiry into the BBC’s 1995 interview with the late Princess Diana, which said that the broadcaster “fell below its high standards of integrity and transparency”.
“I can only imagine the feelings of the royal family and I hope very much that the BBC will be taking every possible step to make sure nothing like this ever happens again,” Xinhua news agency quoted Johnson as saying on Friday.
His remarks came as the Met Police said it will assess the contents of the inquiry into former BBC reporter Martin Bashir’s interview with the late Princess of Wales to ensure there is no “significant new evidence” to support a criminal investigation.
In a statement on Friday, the Met said: “Following the publication of Lord Dyson’s report we will assess its contents to ensure there is no significant new evidence.”
In March this year, the police said it was “not appropriate” to launch a criminal investigation into “unlawful activity” in connection with the interview, but adding that “should any significant new evidence emerge it would be assessed”.
Meanwhile, British senior officials said on Friday that the latest independent inquiry, by retired judge Lord Dyson, has raised “very serious questions” about the corporation.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said it “raises some very serious questions” and “issues around governance” within the BBC. “I think an apology is a start, but I don’t think it’s the end of it,” he told Sky News.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The media themselves and our broadcasters, and the national broadcaster, has a huge sense of responsibility with the way in which they investigate, review and conduct their own media reports.
“So there will be very, very strong and searching questions for the BBC post the publication of this report.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said on Thursday night said the report “reveals damning failings at the heart of the BBC” and he will “consider whether further governance reforms are needed”.
Both Prince William and his brother Harry have both criticised the BBC’s failures surrounding the Panorama interview with their mother.
Prince William said the interview made a “major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse,” adding it has “since hurt countless others”.
“But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived,” he said.
“She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.”
Prince William said the original Panorama interview program had “no legitimacy” and should never be aired again.
A report published on Thursday by the independent inquiry said the BBC fell short of “high standards of integrity and transparency” over its interview.
Former BBC reporter Martin Bashir had acted in a “deceitful” way and faked documents to obtain the interview while the BBC’s own internal probe in 1996 into what happened was “woefully ineffective”, the inquiry said.
The BBC has apologized by saying that the report showed “clear failings,” admitting it should have made more effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time.
The corporation has sent personal apologies to the Prince of Wales, the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, and Diana’s brother Earl Spencer, according to the BBC.
The inquiry found Bashir mocked up fake bank statements that falsely suggested individuals were being paid for keeping the princess under surveillance.
He later showed the fake documents to Diana’s brother Spencer, to gain his trust to gain access to Diana and persuade her to agree to give the interview.
The BBC carried out its own investigation into the issue in 1996, but it “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency”, according to the inquiry.
Bashir, who is one of the UK’s best known journalists and had also made headlines for his 2003 interview with the late pop star Michael Jackson, has stepped down from his role as the BBC’s religion editor, the corporation confirmed last week.
According to the the BBC, this was the first time a serving British Royal had spoken openly about her life, including her “unhappy marriage” to Prince Charles, their affairs and her bulimia.