Prince William: 'BBC failures and false claims contributed to my mother's fear, paranoia and isolation'

  • Video report by ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship

Prince William has spoken of his "indescribable sadness" following an investigation into the BBC Panorama interview with his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales which exposed "deceitful behaviour" and a "cover up" by the corporation.

The Duke of Cambridge described the findings of the inquiry as "deeply concerning" adding that the BBC's failures "contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation, that I remember from her final years with her."

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He said: "BBC employees lied and used fake documents to obtain the interview with my mother, made lurid and false claims about the royal family which played on her fears and fuelled paranoia.

"They displayed woeful incompetence when investigating complaints and concerns about the programme and were invasive in their reporting to the media, and covered up what they knew from their internal investigation."

Former Panorama reporter Martin Bashir commissioned fake bank statements and used "deceitful behaviour" in a "serious breach" of the BBC's producer guidelines to secure his Panorama interview, Lord Dyson's report concluded.

It also criticised a 1996 internal investigation conducted by former director-general Lord Tony Hall, who was director of BBC news and current affairs when the Diana interview was screened, as "woefully ineffective".

Prince William said that the way that the interview was obtained "substantially influenced" what his mother said and that it was responsible for making his parents' relationship worse.

He said: "It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said.

"The interview was a major contribution to making my parents relationship worse and has since hurt countless others.

"It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC's failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation, that I remember from her final years with her."

  • ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship: 'The truth for the BBC is very ugly indeed'

He added: "What saddens me most is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived.

"She was failed not just by a rogue reporter but my leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions."

Prince Harry said unethical practices in the media ultimately took his mother's life. Credit: PA

His brother, Prince Harry said in a statement that the "ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life".

He said: "Our mother was an incredible woman who dedicated her life to service. She was resilient, brave, and unquestionably honest.

"The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life.

"To those who have taken some form of accountability, thank you for owning it. That is thefirst step towards justice and truth."

He said that he is "deeply concerned" that practices like these are "still widespread", adding: "Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed. By protecting her legacy, we protect everyone, and uphold the dignity with which she lived her life. Let’s remember who she was and what she stood for."

Prince William said that the programme should "never be aired again" as it "effectively established a false narrative which for over a quarter of a century has been commercialised by the BBC and others".

He added: This settled narrative, now needs to be addressed by the BBC and anyone else who has written or intends to write about these events.

"In an era of fake news, public service broadcasting and a free press have never been more important.

"These failings identified by investigative journalists not only let my mother down and my family down, they let the public down."

His comments come after his uncle, Earl Spencer - who was shown the fake bank statements to gain access to the princess - said Princess Diana did not know who to trust.

He said: "It's quite clear from the introduction that I sat in on, on September 19, 1995 - everyone was going to be made untrustworthy.

"And I think that Diana did lose trust in really key people. This is a young girl in her mid-30s who has lived this extraordinarily turbulent and difficult time in the public eye - she didn't know who to trust.

"And in the end when she died two years later, she was without any form of real protection."

He said: "The irony is that I met Martin Bashir on 31 August 1995 because exactly two years later she died.

"And I do draw a line between the two events."

Lord Dyson, former master of the rolls and head of civil justice, was appointed to look into the circumstances surrounding the 1995 interview.

It is understood the BBC has written personal apologies to the Prince of Wales, the dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, and Diana’s brother Earl Spencer following the inquiry.

The report said: “By showing Earl Spencer the fake Waller and Jephson/Aylard statements and informing him of their contents, Mr Bashir deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana. By gaining access to Princess Diana in this way, Mr Bashir was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview.”

Former Panorama employee Mark Killick said that staff were "attacked" for raising concerns about the interview and that there was a "culture of fear" at the BBC at the time.

He said: "I think that one of the things the BBC management did with their incompetent investigation and their attack on the Panorama staff that brought this to light was to send a message to the whole of the BBC that you can’t speak truth to power in certain instances. If you do, you’ll lose your job."

He said it was the "BBC's phone hacking moment".

"With phone hacking, the issue was how the story was obtained, not the story itself and it is the same thing here," he said. "What's interesting is the BBC decide to shoot the messengers, run a smear campaign and then cover up the story."

Current BBC Director General Tim Davie said the corporation accepts "in full" the finding of Lord Dyson's review and said that the corporation is "deeply apologetic".

"I can only be driven by what is in the Dyson report and the evidence I have in front of me - that clearly demonstrates major BBC failings," he said.

He told ITV News: "It's a dark day for the BBC."

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