Netflix series The Crown 'will feature Diana's bombshell interview'

Netflix series The Crown ‘will feature Martin Bashir’s bombshell interview with Diana’ – despite Prince William’s appeal for the programme never to be aired again

  • Next instalment of The Crown will cover Martin Bashir’s bombshell interview
  • Source close to the show told The Telegraph ‘scripts are already out there’
  • Comes after Prince William called for the interview to never be aired again 

Netflix series The Crown will feature Martin Bashir’s interview with Diana despite Prince William’s calls for it never to be aired again, it has been claimed.

The next instalment of the popular series will cover the BBC reporter’s ‘dishonest’ and ‘deceitful’ 1995 Panorama interview across two episodes, reports suggested. 

A source close to the show, which is written by British playwright Peter Morgan, told The Telegraph ‘scripts are already out there’ after being written last year.

They added: ‘The team were doing the most incredible research and they’ve got it all in there: the build up to the interview, how Bashir effectively groomed Diana, the interview itself, and the aftermath are all factored in over more than one episode.’

Reacting to findings of Lord Dyson’s report, which concluded Bashir was in the wrong, Prince William said last week the interview now held ‘no legitimacy’, had established a ‘false narrative’ for 25 years, and the BBC’s failings had let his mother, his family and the public down. 

A senior royal source told the Mail: ‘If there are any plans to continue to commercialise and exploit this, not just by the BBC but by any other outlets – upcoming episodes of The Crown, or whoever it might be – that would be of deep concern to him.’ 

Emma Corrin as Princess Diana and Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles in The Crown. The next instalment of the popular series will cover Martin Bashir’s ‘dishonest’ and ‘deceitful’ 1995 Panorama interview across two episodes, reports suggested

A source close to the show, which is written by British playwright Peter Morgan, told The Telegraph ‘scripts are already out there’ after being written last year. Pictured, Mr Bashir and Princess Diana during the interview

The Duke of Cambridge (pictured) read his bombshell statement to camera in a courtyard at Kensington Palace – his London residence and the home of his late mother

The Duke of Cambridge read his bombshell statement to camera in a courtyard at Kensington Palace – his London residence and the home of his late mother. 

Appearing on a Panorama special about the scandal, the princess’s brother Earl Spencer linked his sister’s death to the BBC and the crisis of trust he claimed engulfed her after she was deceived by Bashir. 

His devastating verdict came as a judge ruled the shamed journalist hoodwinked the princess with an elaborate fiction that painted some of those closest to her as traitors. 

The ‘rogue reporter’ commissioned fake bank statements to secure his interview with Princess Diana – but covered up his ‘deceitful behaviour’ in a ‘shocking blot’ on the BBC’s near 100-year history.

Bashir, 58, slated for how he hoodwinked Princess Diana into giving her Panorama interview 25 years ago, was not sacked despite details of his wrongdoing being widely-reported. Pictured, during the interview

Ex-chief superintendent Dai Davies said: ‘It seems to me that there is clear and unequivocal evidence that the Met Police should be at the very least investigating these allegations’

Richard Ayre, then BBC controller of editorial policy, believed Bashir may have committed a crime when he used fake bank slips to secure his 1995 interview with Princess Diana

Bashir is still being paid his estimated £100,000 a year salary by the BBC, its Director-General admitted this morning, as he promised to publish a report next week into how he was hired again.

The journalist, 58, slated for how he hoodwinked Princess Diana into giving her Panorama interview 25 years ago, was not sacked despite details of his wrongdoing being widely-reported.

Key conclusions of the bombshell report that brought shame on the BBC

Instead DG Tim Davie told Radio 4’s Today programme he had been allowed to work a three-month notice period, due to health reasons and consideration of any further legal problems. 

It means Bashir is still being paid by the BBC and technically still working for the broadcaster after he resigned in April.  

The surprising situation was revealed in a wide-ranging interview where he apologised again to whistleblower Matt Wiessler, the artist commissioned to make the fake bank documents at the centre of the scandal.

Mr Davie said they were looking into why Bashir was rehired by the BBC despite issues raised about him.

He said: ‘We will have all the information out in the public domain next week, we will be completely transparent about that.

‘He is working out a short notice period because he resigned and that’s where we are now.

‘I made that decision I think for three reasons: Martin Bashir offered his resignation prior to us seeing the Dyson report.

‘I think there were three reasons why I accepted the resignation: the first were that there were very significant medical care issues, which in terms of Martin Bashir as a staff member regardless of all the situation around it, is a factor.

In a statement, Prince William told of his ‘indescribable sadness’ that the controversial Panorama interview increased his mother’s ‘fear, paranoia and isolation’ in her final years. Pictured, Diana with Prince William and Harry)

Timeline of the Diana-Panorama scandal

1986: Martin Bashir joins BBC as news correspondent and works on programmes including Songs of Praise, Public Eye and Panorama.

November 1995: The famous interview with Princess Diana turns Mr Bashir into TV’s hottest property.

1996: The Mail on Sunday reveals claims that Mr Bashir used faked bank documents to persuade Diana to talk. The BBC holds internal inquiry dismissed as a ‘whitewash’.

1999: Moves to ITV’s Tonight with Trevor McDonald. His scoops include interview with Stephen Lawrence suspects and documentary on Michael Jackson.

May 2004: Quits to host ABC’s Nightline in US. Suspended in 2008 after making ‘Asian babes’ remark at Asian American Journalists convention.

2010: Joins NBC News as an MSNBC anchor. He resigns in 2013 after controversial remarks about vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

2016: BBC re-hires Mr Bashir as religious affairs correspondent. He is later promoted to religion editor.

October 2020: Channel 4 documentary alleges there was ‘elaborate plot’ by Mr Bashir to trick Diana into talking.

November 7: The Daily Mail reveals a shocking dossier held by Diana’s brother Earl Spencer revealing alleged royal smears, lies and tricks that Mr Bashir used to land his interview.

November 18: BBC orders six-month inquiry by former judge Lord Dyson.

May 14, 2021: The BBC announces Mr Bashir has handed in his notice on health grounds. 

‘The second is that it allowed a clean break with no pay-off, which I thought was in the licence fee payers interest to make sure there was a clean process.

‘The third is that there is no restraint in us getting to the truth, this was not an honourable discharge, we were able to go after that report and fully expose.

‘He’s got a three month notice period, three months from the moment he resigned so we are nearly out.’

The broadcasting chief told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he would meet with Mr Wiessler to say sorry. 

He added: ‘I will again reiterate full and unconditional apology to him.

‘And I would like to meet him. I think we need to engage with people to talk to him and the apology is fulsome – I feel shocked.

‘This does need to go through a legal discussion, we will engage in that discussion because clearly we were at fault.

‘I commissioned Lord Dyson it was 25 years, we had to get to the truth.’

The Dyson report is currently being assessed by detectives from the Metropolitan Police to see if there is any new evidence of any criminal wrongdoing.

Scotland Yard said in a statement that they had determined in March that ‘it was not appropriate to begin a criminal investigation into allegations of unlawful activity in connection with a documentary broadcast in 1995, but should any significant new evidence emerge it would be assessed’.

But they added: ‘Following the publication of Lord Dyson’s report we will assess its contents to ensure there is no significant new evidence.’

Critics say the report had provided ‘clear and unequivocal evidence’ that must be pursued.

Last week it emerged that Richard Ayre, the BBC’s controller of editorial policy in 1995, believed Bashir, the BBC’s former religion editor, may have committed a crime when he used fake bank statements to secure his interview with Diana.

In evidence to Lord Dyson, Mr Ayre said: ‘I have no doubt that if he did what is, as I understand it, alleged, that of course would have been unacceptable.’

Matt Wiessler, who was sacked from the BBC after details of his role in making the bank statements emerged, spoke to the BBC’s Today Programme on Tuesday

‘I was the fall guy’, says designer asked by Bashir to draw up the fake bank statements 

Graphic designer Matt Wiessler, who was commissioned by Martin Bashir to create mocked-up documents, said Lord Dyson’s report showed he had been made ‘the fall guy’.

He said in a statement: ‘After a quarter of a century of cover-ups and smears, it’s good to know the truth is finally out that I acted with integrity and responsibly from day one. By blowing the whistle on the deception, I suffered the fate of the fall guy.

‘Lord Dyson correctly found the BBC investigation carried out after I raised the alarm was seriously flawed and a smokescreen to protect Bashir. The order from BBC management to make sure I never got any more work from the BBC was despicable. It had a devastating effect on my career and professional reputation.

‘I hope those responsible for the cover-up will now do the right thing and apologise to me. Tim Davie’s attempted apology today is so bland as to be meaningless. So much damage has been done, not only to me but also to Princess Diana and her family.’

He suggested it would be a criminal offence to approach anyone with a forged document that defamed people. ‘Of course it would have been indefensible,’ he added.

A lawyer for Earl Spencer’s former head of security, Alan Waller, made an official complaint to Scotland Yard Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick in January alleging potential fraud. 

He accused Bashir of ‘dishonest conduct’ and said the BBC had ‘benefited’ while being aware that his actions were ‘unlawful’.

But after spending three months assessing the claims, police announced they would be taking no further action.

That decision was described as a ‘farce’ yesterday by a former head of royal protection, who said many questions had been left unanswered.

Ex-chief superintendent Dai Davies, who once led the Metropolitan Police royal protection unit, said: ‘It seems to me there is clear and unequivocal evidence that the Met Police should be at the very least investigating these allegations. 

‘I simply cannot understand why they won’t investigate given what I understand from the testimony may be a crime.

‘It seems there’s one rule for the BBC and one rule for the rest of us. Normally there would be a criminal inquiry before a civil inquiry.

‘I’m absolutely flabbergasted that there was not enough basic evidence of forgery and fraud here. It beggars belief.’

Mr Davies added: ‘What is it the Met don’t understand about the word dishonest? 

‘My concern is that others may have covered this up and if it was a crime, they may have conspired to conceal forged documents and that concealment could amount to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.’

Metropolitan Police Commander Alex Murray, who leads the force on specialist crime, announced in March that legal advice had been sought from the Crown Prosecution Service and independent lawyers before it was decided not to launch a probe. 


Lord Hall (left), the BBC’s former director general, was accused of helping covering up the scandal, with his 1996 internal inquiry concluding his star reporter Bashir (right) was an ‘honest man’. MPs want him to explain himself

The commander has previously come under fire for not pursuing another alleged scandal in 2019, after Virginia Roberts alleged she was trafficked to Britain by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with Prince Andrew, who denies the claim.

What did Martin Bashir say in response to damning BBC report into Diana interview? 

On Princess Diana:

‘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.’

‘I don’t feel I can be held responsible for many of the other things that were going on in her life, and complex issues surrounding those decisions. 

‘I can understand the motivation but to channel the tragedy, the difficult relationship between the Royal Family and the media, purely on to my shoulders feels a little unreasonable. 

‘The suggestion I am singularly responsible I think is unreasonable and unfair.’

‘She was a pioneering princess. When you think about her expressions of grief in her marriage, when you think about the admission of psychiatric illness – just extraordinary! And her sons have gone on to champion mental health.

On Lord Dyson’s report: 

‘I don’t understand what the purpose of this is ultimately? OK, maybe you want to destroy me, but outside of this, what’s the point? 

‘I did something wrong… but for pity’s sake, acknowledge something of the relationship we had and something of what she contributed through that interview. 

‘One of the saddest things about all of this has been the way the content of what she said has almost been ignored.’

On William and Harry:

He said he is ‘deeply sorry’.

‘I can’t imagine what their family must feel each day, although I know a little of that myself having lost a brother and father prematurely.’

On Diana visiting his wife in hospital after she gave birth to their third child: 

‘We were friends. She was spectacular. 

‘She said to me: “You must let me know the moment the baby arrives,” and an hour later, there was a knock on the delivery room and in she walked.’

On showing Earl Spencer the forged bank statements:

‘Obviously I regret it, it was wrong. But it had no bearing on anything. It had no bearing on [Diana], it had no bearing on the interview.’

On failing to approach graphic designer Matt Wiessler who made the forgeries:

‘I don’t think I did, no. I am sorry about that.’

A Met spokesman said: ‘In March 2021, the [force] determined it was not appropriate to begin a criminal investigation into allegations of unlawful activity in connection with a documentary broadcast in 1995 but should any significant new evidence emerge it would be assessed.

‘Following the publication of Lord Dyson’s report, we will assess its contents to ensure there is no significant new evidence.’ 

The BBC is also returning all awards the explosive interview accrued, including a Bafta TV gong won in 1996.

Bashir announced he was stepping down from his role as the BBC News religion editor earlier this month on health grounds, but actually resigned in April.

Patrick Jephson, the Princess of Wales’ private secretary at the time, also appeared in a documentary on May 24.

He told Panorama Diana was ‘cast adrift’ from her ‘royal support structure that had guided and safeguarded her for so many years’ because of Bashir’s claims and the fallout from the interview.  

Mr Jephson added: ‘Inevitably it made her vulnerable to people who were unable properly to look after her.’  

The documentary also shows a note written from Diana to her brother Earl Spencer after he informed her of Bashir’s elaborate allegations that she was being spied on.

The note – addressed to the earl with Diana’s pet name for her brother ‘Carlos’ – reads: ‘Darling Carlos, I so appreciated the contents of our telephone call this morning, it all makes complete sense to what is going on around me at this present time. 

‘”They” underestimate the Spencer strength! Lots of love from Duch x’. 

The programme also revealed a confidential internal BBC management document written by the outgoing head of TV Current Affairs, Tim Gardam.

It states Bashir misled his bosses by denying he had shown the fake bank statements to anyone. 

The journalist later admitted he had, in fact, shown them to Earl Spencer in order to ‘foster’ their relationship. 

A statement drawn up by former BBC director-general Tony Hall for the corporation’s governors in April 1996 described the fakes as just ‘graphics’ and said Bashir had no explanation for why he’d created them.

He went on: ‘I believe he is, even with his lapse, honest and an honourable man’. 

In the same statement to the BBC’s governors, Mr Hall also acknowledged that Bashir regarded Spencer as ‘the best route’ to ‘get to the Princess of Wales.’

Film and theatre director and former BBC governor Sir Richard Eyre – who attended the April 1996 meeting – told Panorama had Hall disclosed to the governors that Bashir had lied, they would have insisted on a full inquiry.

He said: ‘The fact that Bashir lied should have been made clear to us, but in my memory, it never was. 

‘Constitutionally we, the governors, deserved at the very least to be given an honest report of what was going on. 

‘We can see now that the false bank statements were the lever that opened the doors to the access to Diana. 

‘If we had known at the time, there’s no question that this would have been ruthlessly investigated, because [the governors] were very, very, very hot on a sense of propriety of the organisation.’

Season five of The Crown will feature events leading up to Princess Diana’s death in a car crash in Paris in 1997. The final season will take the viewer as far as the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002.

Mr Morgan has already promised not to cover the last 20 years.   

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