I’ve made my fair share of mistakes as a journalist over the years, but none so profound that they warranted an investigation and a 127-page report from a former British Supreme Court judge.
Such are the circumstances Martin Bashir finds himself in, after an independent inquiry uncovered the “deceitful” tactics Bashir used to secure his iconic 1995 interview with Princess Diana. These included forging bank documents and manipulating Earl Spencer in order to get closer to Diana, clear violations of “the high standards of integrity and transparency which are [the BBC’s] hallmark,” the report concluded.
On Sunday, a few days after the findings of the investigation were made public, Bashir apologized—sort of.
“I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did,” Bashir told the Sunday Times. “Everything we did in terms of the interview was as she wanted, from when she wanted to alert the palace, to when it was broadcast, to its contents.
“Obviously I regret it, it was wrong,” Bashir said of the forgeries. “But it had no bearing on anything. It had no bearing on [Diana], it had no bearing on the interview.”
Diana herself might have seen it this way too. After the sit-down with Bashir, she wrote a note that said she had “no regrets” about her conversation with Bashir. She also said Bashir didn’t present her with any documents or information she “was not previously aware of.”
But Princess Diana’s surviving family members have condemned Bashir and the BBC in the strongest of terms, accusing both of contributing to a narrative that took a toll on her mental health and eventually led to her death.
“The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life,” Harry wrote in his statement released last week. “ ... What deeply concerns me is that practices like these—and even worse—are still widespread today. Then, and now, it’s bigger than one outlet, one network, or one publication. Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed.”
Though Bashir said he was “deeply sorry” to Harry and William, the Sunday Times journalist who interviewed Bashir also felt he could have been more remorseful.
“He wasn’t, I felt, as contrite as one could be in that circumstance,” Rosamund Urwin told the BBC. “If you’re always looking for an excuse rather than an apology that seems problematic to me.”