Earl Charles Spencer, younger brother of Princess Diana, has said the BBC’s findings that the broadcaster did not rehire Martin Bashir in 2016, despite his sketchy past, left him in “disbelief”.
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The BBC published it’s report into the rehiring of Bashir three days ago, he had been an employee of the BBC in 1995 when the interview took place. He then left the BBC in 1999, to work for rival broadcaster, ITV.
However, in 2016 he returned to the BBC as religion editor and correspondent. Earl Spencer has long claimed he and his sister were set up and provided with false information about the royal family and staff, which led to Diana agreeing to the interview.
In late 2020, an independent investigation was launched and led by Lord Dyson; his grim findings were published last month.
His report concluded that BBC bosses covered up “deceitful behaviour” by Bashir to secure the headline-making interview, which made him the well-known journalist he is today.
In the 1995 interview, which was watched by over 20 million people, she famously said: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” referring to Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles.
Following the report, the BBC announced it would commission a review into whether it’s decision to re-hire Bashir as religious affairs correspondent in 2016 was also unethical, the investigation was conducted by by Ken MacQuarrie.
The report has now concluded that the theory, shared by Earl Spencer, that the journalist was re-employed to conceal events surrounding the interview was “entirely unfounded”.
Spencer responded to the report on Twitter, writing: “It won’t end with this, I promise.”
Asked to expand on this, he told LBC: “Bashir is Bashir, and there we are, but I do think the BBC has had an enormous amount to answer for.
“So I wrote that in disbelief when they came up with yet another of their own reports.
“I don’t think it’s very healthy for an institution to report on itself.
‘I just find it unbelievable’
“They found no connection between Bashir being rehired and his previous known lies and other things.”
Responding to the fact that, after the Panorama interview, Bashir worked at ITV, where he was accused of falsely claiming to relatives of Harold Shipman’s victims that the BBC planned to sabotage the serial killer’s prosecution by broadcasting an investigation before his trial, Earl Spencer said: “It’s very hard to see how that man is then put forward as religious correspondent a few years later.
“Why would you choose somebody who you know has caused such trouble?
“This isn’t a crusade. I just find it unbelievable; we are not going to get to the nub of it.”
‘Very odd case indeed’
In response to whether he found questions raised by MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee to the BBC’s former and current director-generals this week, he said: “They asked the right questions and they shone a light where it needed to be shone.
“It made people look very silly, and hopefully there is some shame going on,” he added.
He also commented that he felt this was a police matter, but his attempts to raise it with the Metropolitan Police twice had proved fruitless, he described the forces as “bizarrely reluctant to take it further,” and “very odd case indeed.”
A statement from the Metropolitan Police said: “In March 2021, the MPS determined it was not appropriate to begin a criminal investigation into allegations of unlawful activity in connection with a documentary broadcast in 1995 but should any significant new evidence emerge it would be assessed.
“Following the publication of Lord Dyson’s report we are assessing its contents to ensure there is no significant new evidence.”