CAN you imagine the fuss if it had been a tabloid journalist who was accused of duping Princess Diana into thinking even her own child was spying on her?
Be in no doubt that the story would be heading BBC news bulletins across the board, with left-leaning guest commentators screaming for heads to roll.
Yet, as the “villain” of the piece was operating under the auspices of that revered institution Auntie Beeb, the response beyond certain “populist” newspapers has been notably muted.
What utter, unashamed hypocrisy.
“Nothing to see here,” is the general tone from certain pundits.
They point out Diana’s brother Charles Spencer, who became Earl Spencer in 1992, first made a complaint about Martin Bashir’s alleged use of fake bank statements in 1996 — the year after his sister’s famous Panorama interview aired.
But they are missing the point. What’s new is that Earl Spencer has accused the BBC of an institutional cover-up after its internal, 1996 “investigation” which is now being viewed as a backside-covering whitewash.
'VERY DARK CLOUD'
Former BBC chairman Lord Grade said this week: “There is a very dark cloud hanging over BBC journalism.”
There is indeed.
And for the majority of BBC journalists who are scrupulously factual and above board, it must be deeply infuriating to only now be learning the full extent of the alleged con job that is claimed to have won Bashir, and the channel, numerous awards.
The shameful details are writ large in the detailed notes Earl Spencer took at the time and has recently disclosed to back up his demand for a new and, crucially, independent inquiry.
He claims that not only did Bashir produce fake bank documents to make him and Diana believe, wrongly, that certain senior staff had been selling stories to The Sun and the now defunct News of the World — but that the BBC man also made damning, false accusations about Prince Charles, Prince Philip, Prince Edward, various senior royal courtiers and even the Queen.
But perhaps the most pernicious charge of all, for a woman already close to the edge, was the claim that not only were some of Diana’s closest friends selling stories on her, but that Prince William was unwittingly wearing a special watch given to him by his father as a spying device.
Earl Spencer says he knew the latter claim was ludicrous and decided Bashir was “clearly lying”, but such was Diana’s feeling of disenfranchisement at this time, she secretly went ahead with the interview anyway.
Diana’s close friend, Rosa Monckton, wrote yesterday: “For the BBC, our national broadcasting corporation, to behave in this devious and underhand way is just as bad as any of the hunting pack of paparazzi.”
So all credit to the BBC’s new Director-General Tim Davie, who only started in September but has pledged a “robust” and “independent” investigation to “get to the truth”.
It is long overdue.
ONE BAD APPLE
Bashir, who has not yet commented because he is recovering from a heart op and Covid — though it did not seem to stop him popping out for a takeaway on Friday evening — may explain or turn out to be a single, rogue operator who pulled the wool over his then bosses’ eyes.
Or he may turn out to have been aided and abetted by others.
Only time, and that “robust” investigation, will tell.
But meanwhile, it is a reminder that the behaviour of one bad apple, or even a few, does not define everyone else who works in that field — a thought that those aforementioned, left-leaning commentators could perhaps keep in mind the next time they are spitting bile about “the tabloids”.
And on that note, I would like to trumpet-blow a section of radio host Paul Gambaccini’s statement issued last week after his seven-year struggle for justice from the Met police over the false allegations that nearly ruined his life and that of others such as Sir Cliff Richard.
Paul wrote: “When the BBC abandoned us, several print journalists saved us.
"They took our cause to the Government and people of the United Kingdom . . . I will be grateful to them for the rest of my life.”
I’m proud to say that yours truly was one of those he named.
Palace is out of line on Harry
AS an ambassador for Help for Heroes, my time spent with both former and current Armed Forces personnel tells me they won’t hear a bad word against Prince Harry.
They adore him. And he adores them.
As he’s mentioned many times, his ten years in the military were among the most rewarding of his life.
Which is why it was such a mis-step by the Palace to refuse his request to have a wreath laid on his behalf at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday because he’s no longer a “senior royal”.
Harry proudly served his country in a war zone and wanted to show his respect for the fallen of previous conflicts.
For “protocol” to deny him the chance was pretty shabby.
Help our heroes
LIKE so many charities, H4H is struggling to keep going during the pandemic and has launched an urgent cash appeal.
Sun readers have always been so generous towards our wounded veterans, so if your livelihood hasn’t been affected by Covid and you would like to donate, you can do so at helpforheroes.org.uk.
Do keep up will you, Ant
FORMER special services soldier and now TV star Ant Middleton credits wife Emilie with his success.
Referring to her as the “Long-Haired General”, he says she loves being at home with the kids and adds: “That seems to be frowned upon nowadays – if the mum is at home and the man is at work.
“Yet that’s what we love doing. It might sound like the 1950s but it worked back then and it still works now.”
Indeed, it does. For some.
But the difference between then and now is that, rather than women being expected to stay home, it’s their choice.
Provided, of course, they can afford it.
ICELAND has recalled a batch of Twix “Barres Glacees” ice-cream bars from stores because the ingredients are not listed in English.
Meaning that, as they contain milk, wheat, soya and nuts, just one bite could be dangerous to anyone with an allergy.
Though if it’s nuts, one imagines that a quick glance at the packet photo might flag up that it’s best avoided.
ROLLS-ROYCE has signed a deal to build “flat-pack” nuclear power stations in this country.
As The Bloke and I nearly divorced over the joint assembling of an Ikea Billy bookcase, we’ll gratefully leave it to the experts.
Blunder the bed
WE’VE all done some stupid things in our lives but Corrie actor Michael Le Vell’s recent revelation about his co-star Helen Flanagan is a corker.
Helen – who plays his screen character Kevin Webster’s daughter Rosie – was staying in a London hotel and got everyone evacuated after telling security that, while searching for her shoes, she looked under the bed and saw a man hiding there.
When security went to investigate, it turned out the bed had a glass base and it was her own reflection.
For “duh” moments it’s right up there with my friend, who reported her car missing from a multi-storey car park, only for police to locate it in the exact same space on the floor above.
Hooray for vaccine
A BIG three cheers to all the scientists working tirelessly around the clock to bring us a vaccine that will hopefully restore normality – remember that? – by spring.
A welcome development that, at last, could see us treated as human beings again, and not merely as projected numbers on one of Sage’s many confusing charts.
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