PRINCE Harry, William and the Queen have all received apology letters from the BBC over the Princess Diana Panorama interview scandal.
Royal sources said the corporation has also written to Prince Charles to say sorry after a damning report found the BBC “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”.
Palace sources confirmed the members of the royal family had received letters – but said they would not be released.
A probe was launched into journalist Martin Bashir and BBC bosses over how the then-unknown journalist managed to bag the royal scoop in 1995.
The six-month independent inquiry conducted by Lord Dyson today found the BBC “did not scrutinise” Bashir despite knowing he lied three times.
The scathing report revealed Bashir did commission fake bank statements to “deceive” Princess Diana into giving the bombshell interview.
It also revealed the corporation “without justification” had “covered up” Bashir’s sensational lies.
Prince Harry, 36, and Prince William have both welcomed the inquiry.
In a break with precedent, William previously said in a statement: “The independent investigation is a step in the right direction.
“It should help establish the truth behind the actions that led to the Panorama interview and subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time.”
What the report found:
- Bashir fabricated information to ‘deceive’ Princess Diana into giving 1995 interview
- He commissioned fake bank statements and showed them to Earl Spencer
- Lord Dyson rules Bashir ‘acted inappropriately’ in serious breach of code
- BBC has admitted ‘unacceptable failures’ and apologised for ‘clear failings’
- The broadcaster ‘fell short of what audiences expect’ and failed with its 1996 inquiry
- Bashir apologised saying the faking of bank statements was a “an action I deeply regret” but said it had “no bearing” on Diana’s decision to do the interview
- Lord Birt, director-general of the BBC at the time, says the BBC “harboured a rogue report” who “fabricated an elaborate, detailed but wholly false account”
- The corporation will be stripped of awards for 1995 Panorama interview
Diana’s brother Earl Spencer told previously how Bashir used forged bank statements to convince Diana to do the interview.
He said the papers wrongly showed two senior courtiers were being paid by the security services for information on his sister.
The false documents also gave the impression associates of the royal family were selling stories to newspapers.
Diana’s brother said if he hadn’t seen the bank statements he would not have made the introduction and the scoop wouldn’t have happened.
The report found Bashir “deceived and induced” Earl Spencer – with former director-general of the BBC Lord Birt branding him a “rogue reporter”.
Bashir today apologised, saying getting the forged bank statements was a “stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret” but believes Diana still would have done the interview regardless and stood by the evidence.
The journalist was accused of ordering a graphic artist to fake two bank statements to obtain the interview after Diana and Prince Charles’ divorce.
Scotland Yard confirmed in March Bashir won’t face a police probe.
Former BBC director-general Lord Hall investigated Bashir in 1996 after questions were first raised over how he secured the bombshell interview with Diana.
He said today he accepts the original inquiry into the interview “fell well short of what was required” and he was “wrong to give Martin Bashir the benefit of the doubt”.
Bashir allegedly peddled 38 lies and smears to the princess to clinch his Panorama chat in 1995, in which Diana famously said: “There were three of us in this marriage”.
She also admitted to her infidelity with Army captain James Hewitt, and questioned Charles’s suitability as king.
Bashir quit the BBC on health grounds earlier this month, where he held the position of the broadcaster’s religion editor.
The BBC has said he is too ill to be interviewed.
Responding to the report, Bashir said today: “This is the second time that I have willingly fully co-operated with an investigation into events more than 25 years ago.
“I apologised then, and I do so again now, over the fact that I asked for bank statements to be mocked up. It was a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret.
“But I absolutely stand by the evidence I gave a quarter of a century ago, and again more recently.”
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