Martin Bashir has spoken out after an official BBC inquiry found he used “deceitful methods” to secure his controversial 1995 interview with Princess Diana. Bashir told The Sunday Times he was “deeply sorry” and “never wanted to harm” the late royal.
“I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did,” he said. “Everything we did in terms of the interview was as she wanted, from when she wanted to alert the palace, to when it was broadcast, to its contents… My family and I loved her.”
As for Diana’s family — including sons Prince William and Prince Harry — Bashir said, “I can’t imagine what their family must feel each day.”
According to the inquiry, which was led by former British Supreme Court Judge John Dyson and released on Thursday, Bashir had shown fake bank statements to Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, which “deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana.” Bashir later lied to BBC managers about them, the inquiry said. The Sunday Times previously reported that the fake documents tapped into Princess Diana’s fears that her private conversations were being bugged by the secret services.
In statements after the release of the inquiry, William and Harry both commented on this paranoia. “Our mother lost her life because of this,” Harry said in his statement, while William surmised that the way the interview was obtained “substantially influenced what my mother said.”
In her 1995 interview with Bashir, Diana famously said there were “three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” The following year, she and Prince Charles divorced; Diana tragically died following a car crash in Paris in 1997.
“The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others,” William said in his statement, adding, “the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.”
In his interview with The Sunday Times, Bashir denied this. “Even in the early 1990s, there were stories and secretly recorded phone calls. I wasn’t the source of any of that,” he said. “I don’t feel I can be held responsible for many of the other things that were going on in her life, and the complex issues surrounding those decisions.”
Bashir has previously claimed to the BBC that the fake bank documents “had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview.” He referred to a handwritten note from her that was included in the investigation, which reads, “Martin Bashir did not show me any documents, nor give me any information that I was not previously aware of.” Bashir said he is still “immensely proud” of the interview.
Bashir left his position as BBC’s Religion Editor last week, citing ongoing health issues.
As for whether he can forgive himself, Bashir admitted to The Sunday Times it was a “serious error.”
“I hope that people will allow me the opportunity to show that I am properly repentant of what happened,” he said.
See more in the video below.