The report on how journalist Martin Bashir obtained a historic interview with Princess Diana left many questions unanswered.
The journalist found a hack BBC The rules are by simulating fake bank statements showing payments from a trust and News International to the account of Alan Waller, a former employee of Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer – and showing them to the Earl to gain access to the princess.
The investigation also said that the company is covering up the behavior of Al-Bashir, and that it “does not live up to a high level of integrity and transparency.”
However, there were five major questions about the scandal that Lord Dyson was unable to answer.
Why did top executives choose to believe Martin Bashir so easily?
Al-Bashir confessed to lying to BBC editors and executives three times about showing false bank statements to anyone before he was forced to admit that he had shared them with Earl Spencer in the wake of a story in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
But during the BBC’s preliminary investigation in 1996, they believed al-Bashir when he said that showing the documents was not in the context of an interview request.
When questions about the drawings first surfaced, Princess Diana sent a letter saying she had not seen the fake documents, which Lord Hall, then-news director at the time before she became BBC Director General, said it made them believe she was unimpressed. Graphics.
The investigation, which Lord Hall conducted after speaking to Mr. Bashir, said he was convinced that the charts “had absolutely no role in gaining the interview” with Diana.
He described the production of the drawing as “unwise,” but said he believed Mr. Al-Bashir, saying he had no reason to collect the drawing “other than that he was not thinking.”
Lord Hall said he was writing to Mr. Bashir to be “more careful in the future” – guidelines would be put in place to cover the use of reconstructed materials and pay for people providing information for investigative programs.
Lord Dyson said that Lord Hall and Anne Solman, the new head of programming at the time, believed that Mr. Bashir was “remorseful” and that Steve Hewlett, the Panorama editor, had spoken to Earl Spencer so they didn’t need to.
In that inquiry, he said that Matt Whistler, the graphic designer who created the bank documents, would not work with the BBC again and the “perpetual rioters” would be removed from Panorama.
Lord Dyson said: “The failure to reach a conclusion on why Mr. Al-Bashir was charged with these false statements (and presented them to Earl Spencer) was a fundamental failure of Lord Hall and Mrs. Soloman to fulfill the purpose of the investigation.
“But that should have led them to real doubts about whether Mr. Al-Bashir was telling the truth.”
He added that Lord Burt, Director General of the BBC at the time, told him that Mr. Al-Bashir was “young, persuasive and of no form, and that in the absence of any counter-facts, it was reasonable to accept what he said.”
“I disagree,” says Lord Dyson in the report.
Why did the BBC re-employ Martin Bashir in 2016?
The head of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Commission, Julian Knight, says there are “serious questions” that need to be answered as to why Bashir was reappointed by the BBC in 2016.
At the time, Al-Bashir had become the BBC’s religious correspondent – nearly two decades after the Panorama episode that made him a household name in the press, and 17 years after he originally left the BBC for IT in 1999.
At the time he was appointed, the BBC issued a very positive press release. “Martin’s record in entrepreneurial journalism is well known and respected in the industry and among our audience,” said Jonathan Monroe, BBC News Group head at the time.
Lord Dyson said that his reassignment case was “outside” the “terms of reference” of his investigation, leaving a question mark over how the recruitment process was conducted.
On Friday, Knight asked for an answer from the BBC’s current general manager, Tim Davey.
“In the wake of the Dyson report, there are still serious questions that must be answered,” he wrote in a letter.
“Why is Martin Bashir re-appointed with BBC You Know What They Know?”
Meanwhile, the former BBC News director apologized for the decision to reappoint Bashir, who would later become Religious Affairs Editor.
James Harding, who held the position when Mr. Bashir was assigned the job, said the responsibility for the journalist’s return to the company “sits with me” and acknowledged that the situation is “really distressing for everyone and depressing for anyone who cares about journalism or cares” about the BBC. “
When asked whether Lord Hall, who led the 1996 internal investigation in the interview, was involved in the reappointment of Mr. Al-Bashir, he said: “What I was saying is that BBC News hired Martin Bashir, so the responsibility for that rests with me. . “
Lord Hall apologized for his role in the original investigation, which Lord Hall described as “totally inadequate”.
He said, “I was wrong to give Martin Bashir the benefit of the doubt, basing that judgment as I did on what appeared to be a deep remorse on his part.”
Who robbed Matt Whistler’s house?
A graphic designer who made the bank statements of Mr. Al-Bashir to show Earl Spencer, who was unaware of a fake at the time, was robbed about a month after the interview was broadcast.
Two CDs containing the drawings Whistler created for Mr. Bashir have been removed from a box they were in at his home.
He contacted the producer and editor of Panorama after the interview aired and said he was concerned that he might have inadvertently played a role in getting the interview done by deception.
Mr. Whistler reported the theft to Tim Gardam, the head of Weekly Programs, who said “Leave it with me,” then called him to say, “It’s been dealt with and he shouldn’t be worried.”
The graphic designer said Sutter Team, Managing Director of Weekly Programs, was concerned that documents would be stolen to make him a “fall man” and would be released to the press.
But after speaking to Mr. Bashir, Mr. Suter and Mr. Gardam said they accepted that the journalist was telling the truth that the bank document drawings were not shown to anyone and that the information came from Princess Diana herself, so he could not use it to secure the interview. .
The journalist said the Princess of Wales believes that Mr. Waller, who worked with Earl Spencer, was being paid through a trust fund to leak stories about her, and it is possible that he was employed by News International and possibly even the security services.
“Given the explanation provided by Al-Bashir, it appears that the pursuit of this is very little,” said Mr. Gardam [the burglary]”.
Lord Dyson’s report did not speculate about who stole the CDs nor did it clarify whether the police investigated.
Who ordered a news blackout on the story on the BBC?
Lord Dyson said the BBC had given “elusive answers” to questions posed by newspapers in 1996 about how Mr. Al-Bashir had secured the interview, but he did not name anyone who had prevented them from responding.
By April 1996, there were several press inquiries to the BBC about the situation. The Mail on Sunday was told that bank statement drawings were never published, were used only in the early part of the investigation, and were ignored when some of the information could not be substantiated.
Articles continued in 1996 about the fake documents and the BBC went on to say that the sketches were put together as part of a wider investigation and there was nothing else to add.
The BBC’s press office also shared with the press that the fake bank statement stories were leaked by other colleagues – something Lord Hall says he was not aware of and will not support.
Tom Mangold, a former Panorama reporter, wrote in 2020 that he believed Panorama’s editor, Steve Hewlett, was “behind the cover-up of the BBC to protect himself, al-Bashir and the entire organization” and said he was organizing the blame on “jealous colleagues,” which Mr. Mangold thought was Is targeting him.
Hewlett died in 2017, but his widow wrote to Lord Dyson denying the accusations saying that Mangold had no evidence, as he indicated himself.
Lord Dyson criticized the BBC for not reporting the allegations against Mr. Al-Bashir, in a statement to the BBC in 1996 in which he said that the story “is not of sufficient news significance.”
Not everyone Lord Dyson has spoken to since that time on the BBC has been able to tell him exactly who made the decision not to cover the story.
Lord Dyson said he did not believe that “all of the BBC editors involved made individual decisions not to publish the story because they considered it not of sufficient news significance to justify even a brief reference.”
He added that he “is convinced that the BBC covered such facts in its press records because it was able to prove how Mr. Al-Bashir secured the interview … The BBC had to answer these questions.”
Have documents also been prepared about Terry Venables’ rescue efforts?
Terry Venables, former football manager of England, was the focus of two panorama episodes presented by Mr Bashir in 1993 and 1994, before meeting the Princess of Wales.
Bashir alleged that Venables raised his £ 1m share of the money that saved Tottenham Hotspur when he was CEO through a “sell and lease back” deal.
A reproduced document on screen showed a schedule of assets used as collateral, which the program claimed it did not have.
A criminal investigation was opened and no evidence of criminal behavior was found, but allegations extended his career.
Venables had long believed the documents were “cooked up” and after suggestions emerged that Mr. Bashir had used fake bank documents to obtain an interview with Diana in 1996, his lawyer wrote to the BBC alleging that the document used was forged.
In both documents used for the Venables’ Rings and given to Earl Spencer, the name “Penfolds”, a Jersey-based fund, was used as one of the payers.
Lord Dyson said in his report that graphic designer Mr. Whistler was asked to make drawings for the bank document.
But he said that Panorama producer Mark Killick “is strongly against suggesting that he commissioned this drawing from Whistler.” [for the Venables episodes] It can be compared to mandating Mr. Al-Bashir to transfer fake bank account statements. “
Lord Dyson said he only cites the “Venables case” in the report as “the Venables’ shows were referenced after the broadcast of Princess Diana’s interview.”
But he said he could not say more about it, “because I do not consider the investigation to be within my competence.”
“I think I asked Matt to use the name ‘Penfolds’ for the Jersey-based fund – a name that comes to mind to use as an example as it originated during the Venables story,” Mr. Bashir wrote in his investigative statement.
“It was a foolish addition and not a name the princess told him.”