BBC to probe ‘false’ documents claims by Diana’s brother over Panorama interview

The BBC is to investigate allegations made by Earl Spencer that he was shown "false bank statements" to help encourage his sister Diana, Princess of Wales, to give an interview to the Panorama programme.

Diana sent shockwaves through the monarchy in 1995 when she told the BBC documentary "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded," a reference to Camilla Parker Bowles – whom the Prince of Wales later married.

The circumstances behind Diana agreeing to be interviewed by reporter Martin Bashir prompted a BBC investigation at the time and a recent Channel 4 documentary.

Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana agreed to be interviewed by reporter Martin Bashir (John Stillwell/PA)

In the weeks before the programme the earl was approached by Mr Bashir and, in what are believed to be new details, Diana's brother Charles now claims he was shown "false bank statements" that related to alleged payments made to two members of the royal household by the security services.

Allegations that other false financial documents relating to a former employee of the earl were produced, were examined by the BBC investigation in the 1990s, as it tried to determine whether or not the princess had been misled – with a key piece of evidence, a note, suggesting she had not.

Mr Bashir, now the BBC's religion editor, is seriously ill with Covid-related complications and is not in a position to respond to the earl's allegations, the BBC has said.

It is understood the earl and the BBC have been conducting a dialogue through correspondence, and the corporation's director-general Tim Davie has apologised to the earl for the events of 25 years ago.

Diana with Bashir during the Panorama interview
Diana with Martin Bashir during the Panorama interview (PA)

In light of his new claims, the princess' brother has called for an apology from the BBC "directed posthumously to Diana; to all who were so grossly lied to – including a global audience; and to me", in part of the correspondence published in the Daily Mail.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "The BBC has apologised. We are happy to repeat that apology. And while this was a quarter of a century ago, we absolutely will investigate – robustly and fairly – substantive new information.

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File photo dated 29/6/1994 of the Princess of Wales arriving at the Serpentine Gallery in London's Hyde Park to attend a gala dinner as its patron. Twenty-five years ago, the Princess of Wales stepped out in her "revenge dress".
Diana and the Queen snapped in good spirits.
TETBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 18: Princess Diana Resting Her Head In Her Hands Whilst Sitting On The Steps Of Her Home At Highgrove, Gloucestershire. (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

The Princess of Wales rides in the passenger seat of a vintage Mercedes-Benz.

Princess Diana, Prince Harry, Prince William, Prince Charles at William's first day at Eton.
circa 1965: A young Lady Diana Spencer (1961 - 1997), later the wife of Prince Charles.
Prince Charles and his fiancee Lady Diana Spencer with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, 7th March 1981.
Prince Charles  and Lady Diana Spencer on their wedding day.
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer on their wedding day.
Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales kissing his wife, Princess Diana (1961 - 1997), on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their marriage.
Princess Diana on her wedding day.
(FILE PHOTO) The Prince and Princess of Wales leave St Paul's Cathedral after their wedding, 29th July 1981. She wears a wedding dress by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel and the Spencer family tiara.
A pregnant Princess of Wales joins the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the Trooping of the Colour ceremony, June 1982. The Queen, Prince Philip, Princess Alexandra of Kent and Angus Ogilvy are among the group. 
(FILE PHOTO) The Princess of Wales attends a dinner held by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in Islamabad during her official visit to Pakistan, September 1991.
Princess Diana pictured in a tiara.

Diana looks deep in thought on her wedding day.

Princess Diana smiles for the cameras.
Princess Diana in a stylish evening gown.
Princess Diana and Prince Philip at a polo match in Windsor on July 26th , 1987.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana leave St. Mary’s Hospital in London, with Prince Harry on September 16, 1984.
Princess Diana with her sons William and Harry in 1995.
Princess Diana pictured in a stylish beret.
Princess Diana is snapped in India.
Princess Diana doing charity work.
Princess Diana holding Harry as a baby.
Princess Diana meeting members of the public.
Princess Diana poses in a bikini during a holiday.
Diana beams as she sits with William and Harry.
Princess Diana pictured with young William.
Princess Diana is seen holding hands with her two young sons William and Harry.
Princess Diana with William and Harry.
Diana with her sons in December 1995.
Diana pictured with Charles.

An adorable Prince William and Prince Harry can be seen standing beside their mother, Princess Diana, as a little girl gives flowers to the Queen Mother in 1991.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, kissing Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, at a polo match.
Diana gets involved in a parents' day race.

Diana dazzles in a green frock.

Diana and Charles pictured at a glamorous evening event.
Diana and Charles pose for a formal picture.
Charles and Diana boarding a flight.
Charles and Diana as newlyweds.
Diana sporting a casual look.

Diana wears a tartan outfit to match Charles' kilt for a trip to Scotland.

A young Diana shows off sapphire sparkler.
Diana dazzles in white frock and tiara during trip to the Middle East.
Diana pictured with baby Harry.
Diana poses for pictures with members of the public during a walkabout.
Diana and Charles enjoy a family day out.
Diana pictured alongside a stern-faced Queen.
Diana pictured alongside Princess Anne.
TETBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 18: Princess Diana Resting Her Head In Her Hands Whilst Sitting On The Steps Of Her Home At Highgrove, Gloucestershire. (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
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"We have asked Earl Spencer to share further information with the BBC.

"Unfortunately, we are hampered at the moment by the simple fact that we are unable to discuss any of this with Martin Bashir, as he is seriously unwell. When he is well, we will of course hold an investigation into these new issues."

Earl Spencer
Earl Spencer has called on the BBC to apologise (Yui Mok/PA)

The earl claims in his letter that the BBC's earlier investigation into whether Diana had been misled, conducted by Lord Hall, then the director of BBC news and current affairs and later director-general, was a "whitewash".

He wrote: "I am now formally asking for the BBC to open an inquiry into this matter, and I hope that it will get to the bottom of key questions: why did Tony Hall's inquiry not seek the truth from me?

"Why did it bend over backwards to whitewash Bashir? Who else knew the extent of his yellow journalism when securing what Hall calls 'the interview of the decade... or of the generation'?"

The BBC maintains there is a written note from Diana – although it no longer has a copy – attesting she had not seen the false bank statements for her brother's then employee, and they played no part in her decision to give the interview.

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