Troubling news out of the UK: journalist Martin Bashir has come under fire following a new report by the BBC network. The report’s findings state that Bashir “deceived and induced” the late Princess Diana by producing fake bank statements to convince her to sit down for a notorious 1995 interview.
Sky News reports that Bashir made a “serious breach” of journalistic ethics in providing the fake statements, which suggested the Royal Family had paid members of Diana’s inner circle to spy on her. Bashir provided those statements both to Princess Diana and her brother Earl Spencer in order to convince them to take part in the interview. The same report also states Bashir concocted fake stories about the Royal Family–including that the family had Diana followed–in order to pressure the late Princess of Wales to take part.
Bashir, for his part, stands by the interview. “This is the second time that I have willingly fully co-operated with an investigation into events more than 25 years ago,” he said in a statement following the release of the report. “I apologized 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. I also reiterate that the bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview.”
The interview in question set off an international sensation for Diana’s candid discussion about her marriage to Prince Charles and the conduct of the Royal Family. She discussed her struggles with postpartum depression and bulimia in the interview, as well as the intense pressure of becoming a state figurehead, claiming at one point that Charles threatened to have her “put in a home” over her mental health.
Princess Diana also–perhaps most famously–confirmed Charles’ longtime affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, saying “there were three of us in this marriage.”
The interview itself was watched by 23 million viewers in the UK, or, at the time, roughly 39.3% of the population. Bashir would go on to win BAFTA Award for Best Talk Show as well as several other “Journalist of the Year” Awards from different outlets.
The 1995 interview with Princess Diana was not the last time Martin Bashir would face questions over his journalistic integrity. In 2003, his documentary Living with Michael Jackson would also ignite a media firestorm, as it featured the singer boasting about sharing a bed and having intimate relationships with young boys. Bashir’s methods of securing the interview also came under scrutiny, as he allegedly promised Jackson a trip to Africa to visit children with AIDS in exchange. When questioned about his methods regarding the Jackson interview in a California court, Bashir notoriously refused to answer.