DAN WOOTTON: The question William and Harry must be asking; does the BBC have their mother’s blood on its hands?

Did the BBC kill Princess Diana? Not directly, no.

But if you are Prince William or Prince Harry today reading Lord Dyson’s devastating report into how Martin Bashir used deceit and lies to procure his famous interview with their late mother, you would be forgiven for asking that question.

Bashir’s bombshell sit-down with the Princess of Wales – fraudulently obtained – led to the Queen demanding Prince Charles divorce his outspoken and then estranged wife.

That culminated in Diana being stripped of her HRH title and, as a result, she rejected the much-needed official security protection she had previously received.

Lord Dyson’s devastating report showed how Martin Bashir used deceit and lies to procure his famous interview with Princess Diana (pictured)

Security that would never have allowed her to get in a speeding car driven by a drunk driver with her new boyfriend Dodi Fayed…

That’s why for the Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex, this investigation is intensely personal.

William in particular remains furious about what happened.

Despite the Corporation’s grovelling apology today, rebuilding relations with the future king will not be easy.

Indeed, this is the BBC’s Watergate moment.

A day of shame for the corporation and its supposedly moral news service.

In fact, alongside the despicable Jimmy Savile cover-up, the Diana Panorama affair will go down as the darkest moment in the history of the Beeb.

Despite the corporation’s grovelling apology today, rebuilding relations with Prince William or Prince Harry (pictured at their mother’s funeral) will not be easy

Its biggest ever journalistic scoop was only achieved because a reporter for the once venerable programme told a vulnerable woman a pack of lies.

Princess Diana was at a low – confused about her future, worried about Camilla Parker Bowles and at war with Prince Charles.

It was absolutely right for Bashir to try and lobby her to speak out. After all, Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey, David Frost and every major TV star of the time was trying the same thing.

But to plant in Diana’s mind a series of clearly outlandish stories to play into her paranoia was dark and dodgy. Bashir tried everything, from the fact Diana was being bugged and her loyal staff being paid by newspapers to outlandish claims Prince Edward had AIDS and the Queen was suffering from a heart condition due to overeating.

If a tabloid newspaper had done the same thing, BBC News would have been howling for it to be shut down. And they would not have been wrong.

But at BBC News, years after Bashir had parlayed his Diana scoop into a lucrative US TV career, they re-hired him to be their religion editor, of all things.

That’s why an apology a quarter of a century after the event, having been forced into a proper investigation due to intense media scrutiny, feels too little too late.

Like so many fans of Princess Diana, for a long time I was sucked in by Bashir.

On some level, I’m still disappointed that Diana’s important testimony to him will now be damned by history, given the circumstances in which the interview was obtained.

Diana, who eerily predicted in the interview that she would become ‘the queen of people’s hearts, in people’s heart’, had every right to speak out about the fascinating and traumatic circumstances of her life within the Royal Family.

Much of what she said, especially about her battles with mental health and bulimia, were illuminating and helped so many others. Her brave public pronouncements were an important part of Diana’s legacy in changing the world.

All of that has come undone now.

Bashir left the BBC last week due to serious health concerns, but he would have had to be sacked.

A pitiful apology today acknowledges he shouldn’t have created fake bank statements to try and lure Diana, but fails to accept the rest of the damning findings by Lord Dyson.

In a statement, he said: ‘It is saddening that this single issue has been allowed to overshadow the princess’ brave decision to tell her story, to courageously talk through the difficulties she faced, and, to help address the silence and stigma that surrounded mental health issues all those years ago.

‘She led the way in addressing so many of these issues and that’s why I will always remain immensely proud of that interview.’

That won’t be good enough for Diana’s sons.

Sadly, Bashir’s journalistic legacy has been destroyed.


DAN WOOTTON: Bashir (left) left the BBC last week due to serious health concerns, but he would have had to be sacked…  And how did Tony, now Lord Hall (right) – the man behind part of the cover-up at the time – end up the BBC director general?

He’ll keep the millions he made after becoming an international celebrity on the back of the Diana interview, but the plaudits have been wiped away, with the BBC even deciding to hand back the awards it won for the interview

The biggest questions that remain, however, are for the shamed corporation.

Yet again, the BBC has been proven to be a home of liars prepared to cover up scandals to save their own skin.

What else has BBC News covered up?

How on earth can they hold others to account when this is how they behave themselves?

And how did Tony, now Lord Hall – the man behind part of the cover-up at the time – end up the BBC director general? If he was still in post today, he would have also been forced to resign in disgrace.

So significant are today’s events that BBC1 has cancelled its popular One Show tonight at 7pm to broadcast a long-delayed Panorama investigation into itself.

I hope they acknowledge their journalistic rivals at newspapers who have spent 25-years uncovering this shameful scandal. After all, it was the Mail on Sunday that first broke this story back in 1996!

While the BBC continually tries to bring down other journalists, there’s a real irony that it was their reporters and executives engaged in far more damaging deceit.

But today my thoughts are with Prince William and Prince Harry who will be plagued by the thought that if the BBC and Bashir had acted properly their beloved mother might still be alive.

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