Prince William under the spotlight over BBC attack – bishop issues warning over comments


    The Bishop of Leeds said it is “very early days” and “we will have to wait and see” if the Duke of Cambridge’s “devastating” televised statement “stands up to scrutiny”. His comments come after the Duke of Cambridge last week heavily criticised the BBC for its failings in the handling of his mother Princess Diana’s 1995 Panorama interview following the release of the findings of an inquiry by Lord Dyson.

    The Right Reverend Nick Baines said: “He lost his mother in those circumstances.

    “He’s got this rift with his brother – I think it is understandable he would make a fairly devastating statement.

    “Whether it will stand the test and scrutiny of time is for others to discuss.

    “It’s very early days. We will have to wait and see whether it stands up to scrutiny.”

    Speaking during an interview with former BBC executive Roger Bolton for the Religion Media Centre think-tank, Mr Baines also questioned Diana’s brother Earl Spencer’s insistence that he “draws a line” between the interview and his sister’s death in a 1997 Paris car crash.

    He said: “What role the Bashir interview played, I think, is questionable.

    “I don’t mean that it was of no account – it’s just that there’s a question over what actual role it played in the destruction that followed.”

    The bishop also hit out at the BBC’s internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding Diana’s interview in 1996.

    READ MORE: Diana friend recounts ‘noticeable change’ in Princess after Bashir

    “It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.

    “But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived. She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.”

    Calling for the interview never to be aired again, William added: “It is my firm view that this Panorama programme holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again.

    “It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialised by the BBC and others.

    “This settled narrative now needs to be addressed by the BBC and anyone else who has written or intends to write about these events.

    “In an era of fake news, public service broadcasting and a free press have never been more important. These failings, identified by investigative journalists, not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too.”

    An inquiry by Lord Dyson found the corporation covered up Mr Bashir’s deceit and “fell short of high standards of integrity and transparency”.

    The journalist was in “serious breach” of the BBC’s producer guidelines when he faked bank statements and showed them to Earl Spencer to gain access to his sister, the report said.

    The BBC has sent the royals – including William and Prince Harry – grovelling letters of apology.

    And Mr Bashir has said sorry to the brothers, but insisted he “never wanted to harm” Diana and does not believe he did.

    He told the Sunday Times: “I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did.

    “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.”


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