William and Harry have condemned the BBC for its treatment of Diana, Princess of Wales, saying their mother’s Panorama interview fuelled her “fear, paranoia and isolation” and a wider “culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life”.
The furious royal brothers issued scathing statements on the corporation’s actions after an inquiry found the broadcaster covered up “deceitful behaviour” used by journalist Martin Bashir to secure his headline-making interview with their mother in 1995.
Bashir was in “serious breach” of the BBC’s producer guidelines when he faked bank statements and showed them to Diana’s brother Earl Spencer to gain access to the princess, a report by Lord Dyson said.
The findings of the 127-page document have prompted developments, with Scotland Yard, which previously said it would not launch a criminal investigation into Bashir’s actions, now saying it will “assess” the report to “to ensure there is no significant new evidence”.
Speaking during a visit to Portsmouth on Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “obviously concerned by the findings of Lord Dyson’s report”.
He said: “I can only imagine the feelings of the royal family and I hope very much that the BBC will be taking every possible step to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said ministers would be looking into whether there were BBC governance issues outside of the remit of Lord Dyson’s reports that needed reviewing.
Mr Buckland told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “My colleague the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, has rightly said that we should look at the governance structures of the BBC.
“They have apologised, which is appropriate, but clearly the wider issues of governance and the way things are run now need to be looked at.”
In his rebuke of the BBC, the Duke of Cambridge said: “The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others.
“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 documentary never to be aired again, William, 38, said: “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.”
Away from the Panorama scandal, Harry has admitted in his new documentary series with Oprah Winfrey, the trauma of his mother’s death led him to use alcohol and drugs to “mask” his emotions and to “feel less like I was feeling”.
The Duke of Sussex, 36, said in his statement about Diana’s interview: “Our mother was an incredible woman who dedicated her life to service. She was resilient, brave, and unquestionably honest.
“The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life. To those who have taken some form of accountability, thank you for owning it.
“That is the first step towards justice and truth. Yet what deeply concerns me is that practices like these—and even worse—are still widespread today.
“Then, and now, it’s bigger than one outlet, one network, or one publication. Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed.
“By protecting her legacy, we protect everyone, and uphold the dignity with which she lived her life. Let’s remember who she was and what she stood for.”