The BBC is embroiled in a major scandal, with questions raised over how it must change in light of the events, over an interview carried out on an episode of Panorama in 1995 in which Martin Bashir interviewed Princess Diana.
An independent inquiry recently concluded that the journalist had acted improperly in attaining the interview, partly by lying to Diana’s brother Earl Spencer
Who is Earl Spencer?
Earl Spencer, or Charles Edward Maurice Spencer, is the younger brother of Princess Diana and as such the maternal uncle of princes William and Harry.
He was born on 20 May, 1964, meaning the new Panorama documentary came out on his 57th birthday.
Born into an aristocratic family to the Viscount and Viscountess Althorp, Queen Elizabeth II is Earl Spencer’s godmother.
He studied at Eton and went on to Oxford, before becoming a journalist with NBC News from 1986 to 1995, and a reporter for Granada Television in the early nineties.
Earl Spencer has seven children, Kitty, Eliza, Amelia, Louis, Edmund, Lara and Charlotte Diana, who was born to his third and current wife, Karen Gordon, in 2012.
Earl Spencer delivered a moving eulogy at his sister’s highly-publicised funeral in 1997 which won him the affection of many of the millions who watched the event.
He was a member of the House of Lords until an act was passed which did away with hereditary peers in November 1999.
What did he say in the new Panorama documentary?
A new BBC documentary looking into how former BBC journalist Martin Bashir was able to arrange an interview with Princess Diana in 1995 found he acted “dishonestly and deviously”.
Bashir identified Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer as his route to the princess, and won over his trust by sharing fabricated allegations that members of her staff were spying on her.
Bashir showed Earl Spencer a series of falsified bank statements which he said proved other news organisations were trying to pay off people close to Diana to get inside information.
Earl Spencer told the new Panorama programme that the consequences of Diana’s decision to do the interview contributed to her death in a car crash in Paris on August 31 1997.
Diana and her lover Dodi Fayed died when their car crashed in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel as they were being pursued by the paparazzi.
Earl Spencer told the new BBC programme: “The irony is that I met Martin Bashir on the 31st of August 1995 because exactly two years later she died, and I do draw a line between the two events.”
“It’s quite clear from the introduction that I sat in on the 19th of September 1995 everyone was going to be made untrustworthy, and I think that Diana did lose trust in really key people.
“This is a young girl in her mid-30s who has lived this extraordinarily turbulent and difficult time in the public eye.
“She didn’t know who to trust and in the end, when she died two years later, she was without any form of real protection.”
Earl Spencer took to social media prior to the airing of the new Panorama investigation on Thursday night to share a picture of him and his sister.