Ex-BBC director-generals face grilling from MPs over Diana interview

Ex-BBC director-generals Lord Hall and Lord Birt face grilling from MPs TODAY about Martin Bashir’s Panorama interview with Diana

  • Former director-generals to be quizzed by MPs today about Panorama interview
  • They will also be quizzed on BBC’s handling of Princess of Diana’s 1995 interview
  • Comes after report by Lord Dyson criticised Martin Bashir’s methods to get talk 
  • BBC’s director-general Tim Davie and chair Richard Sharp also to speak to MPs

Former BBC director-generals Lord Tony Hall and Lord John Birt will today face a grilling from MPs about Martin Bashir’s Princess Diana interview.

The pair will appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee later to speak about the events leading up to the bombshell 1995 Panorama interview with the Princess of Wales.

They will also face questions on the broadcaster’s handling of investigations into how Bashir obtained the world exclusive sit down talk.

It comes after a damning report slammed the methods of journalist Bashir, 58, in obtaining the interview, in which Princess Diana infamously said ‘there were three of us in this marriage’.

The report also suggested the BBC had failed to uphold ‘governance, accountability and scrutiny’ with its internal investigation in 1996.

The probe was carried out by Lord Hall when he was the managing director of news and current affairs and Lord Birt was director-general.

Lord Hall later became director-general of the BBC from 2013 to 2020. Both will appear before the committee to give evidence later today. 

Current BBC director-general Tim Davie and chairman Richard Sharp will also appear before the committee to give evidence on the implications of the most recent report – carried out by Lord Dyson. 


Former BBC director-generals Lord Tony Hall (pictured left) and Lord John Birt (pictured right) will today face a grilling from MPs about Martin Bashir’s Princess Diana interview

The pair will appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee later to speak about the events leading up to the bombshell 1995 Panorama interview with the Princess of Wales (pictured here during the interview with Martin Bashir)

It comes after a report slammed the methods of Bashir (pictured) in obtaining the world-exclusive interview, in which Princess Diana infamously said ‘there were three of us in this marriage’

In his report, Lord Dyson, a former Master of the Rolls, said Bashir used ‘deceitful conduct’ to obtain the 1995 interview with the princess, which was then covered up by a ‘woefully ineffective’ internal investigation.

Bogus bank statements commissioned by Bashir ‘deceived and induced’ Earl Spencer to help the journalist ‘to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana’, it said.

His lies landed the Panorama reporter the interview of the century and multiple awards – but hastened the end of Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles and saw her stripped of her HRH status just two years before her death. 

In May, the BBC made a ‘full and unconditional apology’ for Bashir’s conduct and the subsequent cover-up.

The BBC also apologised to the whistle-blower who tried to expose Bashir’s methods.

Graphic designer Matt Wiessler was sidelined by the corporation after raising concerns that fake bank statements he mocked up for Bashir had been used by the journalist to persuade Diana to do the interview.

A review into the decision to appoint Bashir as religious affairs correspondent at the BBC following the interview found ‘no evidence’ the journalist was given the job to ‘contain and/or cover’ up the events surrounding the programme.

The review, conducted by Ken MacQuarrie, found Lord Hall, the former director-general of the BBC who led the internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Panorama interview, did not play a part in the decision to rehire Bashir.

Last month, Lord Hall quit his Government-backed job as chairman of the National Gallery after he was criticised in Lord Dyson’s bombshell report.


Current BBC director-general Tim Davie and chairman Richard Sharp will also appear before the committee to give evidence on the implications of the most recent report – carried out by Lord Dyson.

Yesterday, Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer (pictured, tweeted ‘It won’t end with this’ after an internal BBC report found there was ‘no evidence’ the BBC rehired Bashir to cover-up his dirty tricks in securing his bombshell interview with Diana

Ministers had viewed the Lord Hall’s job at the National Gallery as untenable given the museum’s close connection to Prince Charles, its royal patron.

Lord Birt, who was director-general of the BBC from 1992 to 2000, was also criticised following the Panorama interview with Diana, recorded without the knowledge of Buckingham Palace. 

After the recent report was published, Lord Birt said: ‘We now know that the BBC harboured a rogue reporter on Panorama who fabricated an elaborate, detailed but wholly false account of his dealings with Earl Spencer and Princess Diana.

‘This is a shocking blot on the BBC’s enduring commitment to honest journalism, and it is a matter of the greatest regret that it has taken 25 years for the full truth to emerge.

‘As the director-general at the time, I offer my deep apologies to Earl Spencer and to all others affected.’

Meanwhile, current director-general Mr Davie has contacted the royal family and is also returning all awards the explosive interview accrued, including a Bafta TV gong won in 1996.

Friends of Diana’s have claimed she may still be alive today ‘if she hadn’t spoken to Bashir’, who they nicknamed ‘The Poison Dwarf’ after his betrayal emerged, while Patrick Jephson, the Princess of Wales’ private secretary at the time, said a ‘line’ leads from her interview with Bashir to the night she died in 1997 in a Paris car crash.

Yesterday, Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, tweeted ‘It won’t end with this’ after an internal BBC report found there was ‘no evidence’ the BBC rehired Bashir to cover-up his dirty tricks in securing his bombshell interview with Diana. 

Earl Spencer tweeted a link to a BBC article about the report’s findings, with the message: ‘It won’t end with this, I promise.’ 

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