Princess Diana’s brother ready to call for police probe into BBC Panorama interview
Princess Diana in the now infamous interview with Martin Bashir (Image: ITV)
Get our daily royal round-up direct to your inbox
Sign upWhen you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. OurPrivacy Noticeexplains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy noticeInvalid Email
Princess Di’s brother is prepared to back a police investigation “to the hilt” if there is evidence of wrongdoing over her sensational Panorama interview.
Earl Charles Spencer believes a new inquiry – headed by eminent former judge Lord John Dyson – is “a toothless operation” doomed to fail.
Sources say the earl has joined a raft of legal experts calling for a criminal probe to reveal the “truth” behind the Princess of Wales’s 1995 interview with BBC reporter Martin Bashir.
The earl is said to be “deeply concerned” the probe by Lord Dyson, a former head of the Court of Appeal, is not equipped to root out any criminality.
Princess Diana with her brother Earl Spencer
The Crown's Princess Diana star Emma Corrin to become £5million fashion icon
Royal family newsletter – the must-read email with all the day's royal headlines
A source close to Spencer said: “After believing this process was the best course of action, Charles believes the restrictions placed on the inquiry has turned it into a completely toothless operation.
“He has made his feelings clear to the BBC and will not hesitate to call for a police investigation, which he will back to the hilt, if there is evidence of wrongdoing. He believes there is no better opportunity to seek justice for his sister.”
A criminal probe would investigate claims Bashir used forged bank statements to deceive Spencer and Diana.
Diana’s sons, Princes William and Harry, are being briefed on developments.
Diana gave the interview in 1995
The Crown's portrayal of Princess Diana's bulimia praised by Nicola McLean
Diana's brother Earl Spencer 'not at all satisfied' with BBC Panorama inquiry
William said in a statement: “The independent investigation is a step in the right direction. It should help establish the truth behind the actions that led to the Panorama interview and subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time.”
A source close to US-based Harry confirmed he welcomed the probe, adding: “Harry is getting regular updates and is aware of everything that is happening. People know how much his mother means to him.
“He has bravely spoken out in the past about loss and grief and the immense impact it has had on him.”
One of Di’s closest confidants, Rosa Monckton, welcomed the inquiry and suggested Di was “coerced” into giving the interview.
Rosa Monckton, a close friend of Diana's, has welcomed the inquiry
She alleges “dishonest” methods “changed the course of history”. Di and Prince Charles divorced in the wake of Panorama and she lost her HRH status and the royal protection that went with it.
It meant Di, 37, did not have an official bodyguard when she and Dodi Fayed, 42, died in 1997 – when a Mercedes driven by boozed-up chauffeur Henri Paul crashed in Paris.
Ms Monckton, 67, said: “Look what happened to the News of the World – closed down because they committed a criminal act by tapping people’s telephones.
“The BBC has made a lot of money from this programme. Bashir’s career has ridden on this programme.”
And she claimed: “They used fraudulent documents.”
It was revealed yesterday that Spencer had written to BBC director general Tim Davie. It is understood he claimed Lord Dyson, 77, will be blocked from investigating allegations of a cover-up.
Lord Dyson is leading the probe
And in a Twitter message, Spencer wrote: “As I’ve told the BBC this evening, I’m not at all satisfied with the parameters they’ve set around their inquiry.
“Lord Dyson must be free to examine every aspect of this matter, from 1995 to today, as he sees fit.”
Former head of royalty protection Dai Davies called the Dyson probe a “whitewash before it’s got off the ground”.
He said: “The investigation is completely doomed because Lord Dyson does not have the powers to compel anyone to speak.
“Until there is a proper police investigation we will never get to the truth the BBC suggest they are so interested in seeking.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “It is a fully independent investigation with a suitably wide remit. The notion that it doesn’t cover the BBC’s investigations at the time is incorrect as this is explicitly part of the remit.
“If anyone submits new evidence – or the investigation needs to go to particular places – then Lord Dyson will be able to consider that appropriately.”
Michael Mansfield QC, who represented Mohamed Al-Fayed at the inquest into Diana and Dodi’s death, told the Sunday Mirror he believes there should be a police inquiry.
He said the Panorama interview was “extremely important and critical”.
He said: “This should be handled by the police and the BBC should have referred it. Why haven’t they? They have known the facts for a long time.
“The way the BBC handled this has been appalling. This interview reputedly had an adverse effect on the mon-archy as a whole and some think it had an adverse effect on Diana. The BBC should have examined it years ago. It’s a very serious allegation.”
The BBC maintains it has not spoken to 57-year-old Bashir about the allegations as he is on sick leave, recovering from a quadruple heart bypass and coronavirus.
Bashir is accused of producing fake bank statements to claim, falsely, that a member of Earl Spencer’s staff received cash for information on Di.
BBC graphic designer Matt Wiessler alleged Bashir asked him to mock up the forgeries. Wiessler, 58, says he was made the “fall guy” and sacked as part of a 1996 internal probe by the BBC.
Matt Wiessler alleged Martin Bashir asked him to mock up the forgeries
The BBC is said to have banked £1million from selling the rights to the Diana interview around the world while Bashir’s career rocketed on the back of his sensational scoop.
A police investigation would look at potential breaches of the 1981 Forgery and Counterfeiting Act.
It is also claimed Bashir made a string of wild, false allegations to secure the interview, alleging that Di’s guard was plotting against her, Prince Charles was sleeping with a royal nanny, Prince Edward was having AIDS treatment and the Queen was a “comfort eater” with heart problems.
Legal experts estimate Lord Dyson will receive £250,000 to £500,000 for the planned six-month inquiry and the costs of a “modest team of three or four people” will lift the bill to £1.5million – paid by the taxper-funded BBC.
A press officer assigned to answer questions for Spencer did not take calls or respond to emails.