BBC to pay £1.5m to charity of ‘Royal’s choice’ after fallout over Martin Bashir’s Diana interview


The BBC hopes to make amends for the Martin Bashir scandal by paying about £1.5 million ‘guilt money’ to a charity chosen by the Royal Family, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The unprecedented donation includes £1.15 million – the amount the Corporation made from selling the global rights to Bashir’s explosive Princess Diana interview – plus reparations.

An inquiry by Lord Dyson in May found Bashir had lied to obtain the 1995 interview, using ‘deceitful’ methods later covered up by a ‘woefully ineffective’ internal investigation by Tony Hall, who later became BBC director-general.

While the exact terms have yet to be finalised, and there is no date set for the money to paid, it is understood it will come from BBC Studios, the Corporation’s trading arm – a commercial operation not funded by the licence fee.

The BBC hopes to make amends for the Martin Bashir scandal by paying about £1.5 million ‘guilt money’ to a charity chosen by the Royal Family 

An inquiry by Lord Dyson in May found Bashir had lied to obtain the 1995 interview, using ‘deceitful’ methods later covered up by a ‘woefully ineffective’ internal investigation by Tony Hall, who later became BBC director-general

An inquiry by Lord Dyson in May found Bashir had lied to obtain the 1995 interview, using ‘deceitful’ methods later covered up by a ‘woefully ineffective’ internal investigation by Tony Hall, who later became BBC director-general 

Royal sources say Princes William and Harry are likely to be involved in deciding how it should be used

Royal sources say Princes William and Harry are likely to be involved in deciding how it should be used

Royal sources say Princes William and Harry are likely to be involved in deciding how it should be used.

Last night Diana’s close friend Rosa Monckton said: ‘This is an admirable decision, though obviously it cannot undo the damage that has been done or erase the BBC’s guilt.’

Although the scandal was uncovered by this newspaper 25 years ago, it took the BBC until earlier this year to acknowledge Bashir’s wrongdoing, having previously exonerated him.

Following publication of Lord Dyson’s report, William condemned the Corporation for deceiving his mother, ruining her life and helping to hasten her divorce.

He said the BBC’s failures had contributed to Diana’s ‘fear, paranoia and isolation’ in her final years, and that the interview made a ‘major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse’.

It is understood that the donation idea was first suggested by Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, who said some of the money made by the BBC should go to Diana’s charities. 

It is also understood that Palace officials did not ask the BBC for a donation and are yet to be informed about the details.

The move comes against a background of ongoing discussions, initiated by William, between the broadcaster and Palace courtiers. 

The Corporation humiliating confessed that ‘Martin Bashir employed lies and fake documents to gain access to the princess’ and that he ‘made a series of lurid and untrue claims'

The Corporation humiliating confessed that ‘Martin Bashir employed lies and fake documents to gain access to the princess’ and that he ‘made a series of lurid and untrue claims’

It is understood that the donation idea was first suggested by Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, who said some of the money made by the BBC should go to Diana’s charities

It is understood that the donation idea was first suggested by Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, who said some of the money made by the BBC should go to Diana’s charities 

Following publication of Lord Dyson’s report, William condemned the Corporation for deceiving his mother, ruining her life and helping to hasten her divorce

People outside the main entrance to the BBC's Broadcasting House building in central London

 Following publication of Lord Dyson’s report, William condemned the Corporation (right) for deceiving his mother, ruining her life and helping to hasten her divorce

William is said to believe there is further evidence to uncover, and expressed interest in continuing private conversations with the BBC ‘to see what comes out’.

However, the current director-general, Tim Davie, is now likely to view the reparations as a way of drawing a line under the affair. He has already sent letters of unconditional apology to the Queen, Charles, William, Harry and Earl Spencer.

They reportedly included the humiliating confessions that ‘Martin Bashir employed lies and fake documents to gain access to the princess’ and that he ‘made a series of lurid and untrue claims’.

Mr Davie also apologised to Matt Wiessler, the whistleblower who revealed Bashir’s deceit, and who is now set to receive between £750,00 and £1 million compensation.

The award-winning graphic artist came forward a quarter of a century ago to expose the Panorama reporter for instructing him to produce phoney bank statements said to be instrumental in securing the Diana interview. 

Mr Wiessler believed they were faithful reproductions of genuine documents, but when he later revealed what Bashir had done he was blacklisted by the BBC.

He was finally vindicated by Lord Dyson’s inquiry.

Two months ago it was reported that Mr Davie had agreed not to air the 1995 interview in full again but said the use of shorter clips in context should be open to further discussion. 

It was claimed that the refusal to give a broader pledge never to show excerpts angered the Palace – courtiers demanded a commitment from the BBC to put stronger limits on its use.

Prince Charles was said to be furious about ‘lurid lies’ in the interview, including the claim that he was not suited to be monarch. 

He is believed to be deeply concerned this clip is never replayed because of the impact it could have on public perception of his enthusiasm about inheriting the throne.

Bashir was rehired by the BBC as religion editor in 2016 but abruptly stepped down on May 14, citing poor health.

The BBC and Kensington Palace declined to respond.  



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