The BBC apologizes for “mistakes” in disclosing Diana’s interview

The BBC has apologized for “mistakes” in its handling of the revelation about Martin Bashir's interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.

The broadcaster is accused of failing to release material under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act about its handling of the scandal when it broke in 2020.

During closing arguments to a tribunal to decide whether details should be released under the FOI Act, documentary maker Andrew Webb, who initially exposed Mr Bashir, described the BBC's actions as a “cover-up”.

Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, was even called to testify on Tuesday.

The scandal arose when the BBC's then head of news, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, suggested in a confidential briefing that Coun Spencer had given Mr Bashir bank statements.

Bashir grossly breached the instructions of BBC producers when he forged bank statements and showed them to Earl Spencer to gain access to Diana in 1995.

Diana told the BBC reporter in the interview: “There were three of us at this wedding, so it was a bit crowded.”

Mr Webb and the BBC have now agreed for the documentary maker to see a sample of documents as a compromise, the court heard, after initially complaining that the broadcaster failed to release more than 3,000 emails relating to its handling of the scandal.

In his closing speech on Tuesday, Mr Webb spoke of how he was in no doubt after showing Earl Spencer the original FOI disclosure from the BBC that what the broadcaster said was “not true”.

He said: “This claim is such a huge claim for anyone to publish.

“The only thing we had to do in that situation was to go to the horse's mouth and say ‘look, that's what the BBC said, what gives?'

“I got a very quick response from his secretary and the phone rang.

“At the end of that call, I was completely satisfied that what the BBC had said was not true.”

Mr Webb went on to question whether the BBC had “shamelessly” released documents about “what they would say is good … and concealing what they would say is bad”.

He added: “So I put in an FOI request, that's why we're here today.”

Mr Webb told the court he believed the actions of BBC executives were to “breathe new life into this 1996 cover-up” and ensure “Martin Bashir would never get into the book”.

Acting for the BBC, lawyer Jason Pobjoy said the mistakes were made in “good faith”.

In his final speech, he said: “The BBC accepts and has accepted that mistakes were made in this case – particularly in dealing with the original request.

“I want to apologize again on behalf of the BBC for these mistakes.

“We do not tolerate these mistakes, the BBC's position is that they were mistakes but in good faith.”