Bashir’s other ‘scoops’ should be looked into, says ex-Channel 4 head of news

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The BBC must look at how Martin Bashir acquired his other “scoops” following the damning report into how he landed his interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, Channel 4’s former head of news has said.

Dorothy Byrne said the revelations in Lord Dyson’s report that Bashir used “deceitful behaviour” to secure his exclusive 1995 Panorama interview were “scandalous”.

She told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme that the BBC and ITV should now look at other stories Bashir provided them with.

Ms Byrne said: “Other people who have been interviewed by Martin Bashir have complained that he lied to them and we know that the BBC wrote a formal letter to ITV about his conduct on several stories.

2019 Edinburgh TV Festival
Dorothy Byrne (Jane Barlow/PA)

Bashir left the BBC in 1999, four years after his interview with Diana, to join ITV.

In 2016, he was rehired as the BBC’s religious affairs correspondent, before becoming religion editor – a role from which he resigned this month citing ill health.

Royal biographer Andrew Morton said Diana’s interview with Bashir was not a case of self-indulgence, but instead “self-preservation” as she had been put into a state of fear and trepidation.

Asked if Bashir could have landed the interview had he not lied, Morton said: “He wouldn’t have got it, he scared her half to death.

He told Sky’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: “He had her thinking he had contacts inside MI5, he was very plausible, he arranged meetings in underground car parks – scary places at the best of times, but when you think your life was in danger it was very potent.

Princess Diana –  Panorama interview
Diana during her interview with Martin Bashir for the BBC (PA/BBC screen grab)

However, Morton said Diana would have given the interview to another journalist eventually.

“There was no question at all Diana was going to speak her mind,” Morton added.

He said: “An awful lot of what she did say (during the interview) had been circulating before that, but because it came out of her mouth it seemed sensational, raw and new.”

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Bashir said he “never wanted to harm” Diana.

He told the paper: “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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