The BBC is accused of new cover-ups for refusing to hand over thousands of emails referring to Martin Bashir’s infamous interview with Princess Diana
- A judge will decide this year whether the internal e-mails should be made public
- In 2020, Daily Mail revealed how Bashir tricked Diana into giving an interview
The BBC was accused of a ‘cover-up’ last night after it refused to release 3,200 emails linked to Martin Bashir’s infamous interview with Princess Diana.
The internal emails could reveal damning details of how the BBC reacted when Bashir’s cheating in getting the interview was revealed, it is alleged.
A judge will decide this year whether the emails should be made public.
In 2020, the Daily Mail revealed how Bashir tricked Diana into giving the Panorama interview, in which she revealed ‘there were three of us in this marriage’ – referring to Charles’ mistress Camilla.
Bank statements had been falsified to suggest that an ex-security chief had been paid by a tabloid to spy on Diana and her brother Earl Spencer, fueling her paranoia.
Diana with Martin Bashir during the sensational 1995 Panorama interview
The Mail revelation came weeks after the BBC released a series of memos and minutes from 1995 and 1996 under freedom of information laws detailing how bosses had covered up the scandal.
But journalist Andy Webb, who helped expose the cover-up, suspects the BBC only selectively released emails.
In 2021, he requested all emails between BBC executives and its information office sent from September to November 2020 relating to the Bashir scandal.
For months, the BBC insisted its archive was out of documents, but in a U-turn last year it revealed 3,288 emails had been discovered and apologized to Mr Webb for ‘accidental errors’.
Despite this, the BBC subsequently sent Mr Webb only 71 redacted emails.
It maintains that the remaining 3,217 are either irrelevant or contain “legally privileged” information.
Based on the 207 pages he received, Mr Webb estimates that the BBC could have had as much as 10,000 pages of material.
He is now taking his case to an information rights tribunal to try and force the BBC to hand over all the files.
He said: ‘I believe the BBC is engaged in a new and rather desperate cover-up and the 10,000 pages of emails that have now miraculously surfaced will prove it.
“In court, the BBC will have to explain the extraordinary appearance of 10,000 pages of potentially incriminating documents, which the Corporation claimed were non-existent just two weeks earlier.”
The row comes after a senior BBC boss questioned whether he misled the BBC board.
In an email to the board in 2020, Philip Harrold, Director-General Tim Davie’s chief of staff, said the BBC was unable to discuss the allegations with Bashir because the reporter was unwell.
They are potentially incriminating documents
But other emails obtained by Mr Webb show that Richard Burgess, Bashir’s news editor, had contacted the reporter via email a week earlier.
Webb claims the emails show the BBC had a “detailed conversation” with Bashir about the scandal.
Last night a BBC spokesman said contact with Bashir was ‘mainly focused on his health and well-being’, adding: ‘The fact that there was contact between the BBC and Martin Bashir does not mean that he was fit to act at the time. participate in a detailed discussion of the events of 1995 – he did not.
“This was eventually carried out independently by Lord Dyson in his research, after Martin’s health improved.”