In a newly released email, journalist Martin Bashir has claimed that ‘professional jealousy’ was the cause of the accusations that he obtained the controversial interview with Princess Diana through deceit. This revelation comes after a damning report in 2020 found that Bashir had faked bank statements and presented them to Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, as a means to gain access to the royal.
The email, dated 20 July 2020, reveals Bashir’s perspective on the situation. He stated that the ‘forgery’ story had no impact on the interview itself, but it provided an opportunity for ‘professional jealousy’, particularly within the BBC, to accuse him of wrongdoing. Bashir goes on to suggest that there was irritation at the fact that a second-generation immigrant of non-white, working-class roots, like himself, had conducted the interview in a royal palace. He implies that the reaction may have been different if a ‘dynastic’ journalist, such as a Dimbleby, had been involved. Bashir, who was born in London to Pakistani parents and attended a comprehensive school in Wandsworth, believes that his background played a role in the controversy.
The release of these emails is part of the ongoing investigation into the circumstances of Bashir’s interview with Diana, as well as any potential cover-up by the BBC. The email exchange occurred after the head of BBC History, Robert Seatter, received a request to release an archived interview mentioning the forgery story. The scandal resurfaced ahead of the broadcast of the ITV documentary ‘The Diana Interview: Revenge Of A Princess’ in November 2020, where graphic designer Matt Wiessler revealed his involvement in creating the fake documents for Bashir.
Following the revelations, the BBC issued an apology and reached a financial settlement with Wiessler. The recently disclosed emails provide further insight into the internal processes and decisions of the BBC during the investigation. Journalist Andy Webb had requested the release of these emails through a freedom of information (FOI) request, and a judge ordered the BBC to comply with the request last month.
With approximately 3,000 documents, amounting to around 10,000 pages, released to Webb, it is clear that the BBC had been withholding certain internal investigations documents related to the interview. However, the released material includes many duplicates and irrelevant content that was caught by electronic searches. The heavily redacted emails indicate that further legal action may be required to obtain the complete and relevant evidence.
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