Martin Bashir wouldn’t have been rehired by the BBC if truth had been known over Princess Diana interview

Lord Tony Hall told MPs he was ‘very sorry for the hurt caused’ by the 1995 interview

Martin Bashir wouldn’t have been rehired by the BBC if it had known truth over Princess Diana interview  (Photo: PA/Wire)

The BBC would not have rehired Martin Bashir if the circumstances in which he acquired an interview with Princess Diana in 1995 had been known about at the time, the former director general of the BBC has said.

Speaking to MPs on the Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) select committee, Lord Tony Hall apologised to the royal family over the interview, and said Bashir abused his trust.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

At a glance: 5 key points

– Lord Hall appeared before MPs on the DCMS select committee to answer questions on the work of the BBC, and the Bashir scandal in particular

– Bashir would not have been rehired to the BBC if the full circumstances had been known about the Diana interview, Lord Hall claimed

– He said he didn’t want to second-guess those involved in the decision to rehire Martin Bashir as religious affairs correspondent in 2016

– The former BBC boss said he was “sorry for the hurt caused” by the interview

– Committee chair Julian Knight MP said it was “utterly extraordinary” that the BBC rehired Bashir

What’s been said

Lord Hall said: “If we knew then what we know now, of course he wouldn’t have been rehired.

“At core here, I trusted a journalist, I gave him a second chance, and that trust was abused and was misplaced.

“I don’t think the words ‘honest and honourable’, 25 years on, look appropriate at all.”

Chair of the DMCS select committee, Julian Knight MP, said: “A cynic would suggest the process was entirely concocted so that the resolution at the end of the day was that Mr Bashir would get this job.”

Background

A recent report by Lord Dyson found that while working as a journalist for BBC Panorama, Martin Bashir had used “deceitful” methods to secure an interview with Princess Diana in 1995.

Lord Hall was director general of the BBC between 2013 and 2020, and led the BBC’s internal inquiry into Bashir in 1996, which has since been criticised.

Another report by the BBC ruled that Bashir was not rehired as part of a coverup of the circumstances surrounding the 1995 interview.