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Earl Spencer ‘disbelief’ as BBC rejects claim Bashir was rehired in ‘cover-up’

Earl Spencer (Yui Mok/PA)
Earl Spencer (Yui Mok/PA)

Earl Spencer has said he was in “disbelief” when a BBC review into the decision to re-hire Martin Bashir found “no evidence” that the journalist was given the job to “contain and/or cover up” the events surrounding his 1995 Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.

A scathing report by Lord Dyson last month concluded that the broadcaster covered up “deceitful behaviour” used by Bashir to secure the headline-making interview in which the princess famously said: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”

However, a subsequent review into the decision to re-hire Bashir as religious affairs correspondent in 2016, commissioned by the BBC and conducted by Ken MacQuarrie, said the theory that the journalist was re-employed to conceal events surrounding the interview was “entirely unfounded”.

Charles Spencer, Diana’s brother, responded to the report on Twitter, writing: “It won’t end with this, I promise.”

Asked to expand on this, he told LBC: “Bashir is Bashir, and there we are, but I do think the BBC has had an enormous amount to answer for.

“So I wrote that in disbelief when they came up with yet another of their own reports.

“I don’t think it’s very healthy for an institution to report on itself.

“They found no connection between Bashir being rehired and his previous known lies and other things.”

Responding to the fact that, after the Panorama interview, Bashir worked at ITV, where he was accused of falsely claiming to relatives of Harold Shipman’s victims that the BBC planned to sabotage the serial killer’s prosecution by broadcasting an investigation before his trial, Earl Spencer said: “It’s very hard to see how that man is then put forward as religious correspondent a few years later.

“Why would you choose somebody who you know has caused such trouble?

“This isn’t a crusade. I just find it unbelievable; we are not going to get to the nub of it.”

Diana, Princess of Wales Panorama interview
Diana, Princess of Wales, during her Panorama interview with Martin Bashir (BBC/PA)

He said he had been pleased by questions raised by MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee to the corporation’s former and current director-generals earlier this week, saying: “They asked the right questions and they shone a light where it needed to be shone.

“It made people look very silly, and hopefully there is some shame going on.”

Asked if he thought it should be a matter for the police, he said: “I have tried; I have referred this twice to Metropolitan Police, they seem bizarrely reluctant to take it further.

“If you went into any situation with fake bank statements and profited from it, you wouldn’t expect to get off scot-free and nor would I. This seems a very odd case indeed.”

A statement from the Metropolitan Police said: “In March 2021, the MPS determined it was not appropriate to begin a criminal investigation into allegations of unlawful activity in connection with a documentary broadcast in 1995 but should any significant new evidence emerge it would be assessed.

“Following the publication of Lord Dyson’s report we are assessing its contents to ensure there is no significant new evidence.”

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