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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Martin Bashir leaves BBC amid inquiry into his interview with Princess Diana

Martin Bashir’s departure came six months after the BBC announced that it had appointed a former judge to lead an investigation into accusations that Bashir had used deceptive tactics to persuade Diana to participate in the 1995 interview.

By: New York Times |
May 15, 2021 10:36:27 am
Martin Basher interviews Princess Diana in 1995 (YouTube screengrab)

Written by Michael Levenson

Journalist Martin Bashir has left the British Broadcasting Corp. as it prepares to publish the findings of an investigation into accusations that he used dishonest tactics to secure a major 1995 television interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.

In an email to colleagues Friday, Jonathan Munro, the BBC’s deputy director of news, said that Bashir had stepped down from his position as the BBC’s religion editor and was leaving the corporation.

“He let us know of his decision last month, just before being readmitted to hospital for another surgical procedure on his heart,” Munro wrote. “Although he underwent major surgery toward the end of last year, he is facing some ongoing issues and has decided to focus on his health.”

Bashir, 58, could not be immediately reached for comment. The BBC reported in November that he had been recovering from quadruple heart bypass surgery and complications from COVID-19, which he had contracted earlier in the year.

Bashir’s departure came six months after the BBC announced that it had appointed a former judge to lead an investigation into accusations that Bashir had used deceptive tactics to persuade Diana to participate in the 1995 interview.

During the interview, which was hailed by British journalists at the time as “the scoop of the century,” Diana spoke candidly of her “crowded” marriage to Prince Charles, admitted to an affair and told how, in her despair, she suffered from “rampant bulimia.”

An estimated 23 million people watched the interview, which rocked England and catapulted Bashir to international renown. He went on to interview Michael Jackson for a 2003 television special and to work in the United States, at ABC and MSNBC, before resigning from MSNBC over comments he made about Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential nominee.

In November, long-standing questions about the methods that Bashir had used to earn Diana’s trust came under renewed scrutiny in a two-part documentary that was broadcast on the British network ITV.

The documentary contended that doctored bank statements — purportedly proving that royal employees close to the princess were being paid to spy on her — were used to gain Diana’s confidence.

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