Review finds 'no evidence' Martin Bashir was rehired by BBC to cover up events surrounding Princess Diana interview

The BBC has lessons to learn from the Martin Bashir scandal

There was "no evidence" Martin Bashir was given the job of BBC religious affairs correspondent to "contain and/or cover up" the events surrounding his Panorama interview with Princess Diana, a review found.

A separate report by Lord Dyson in May criticised the methods Bashir used to secure his bombshell interview in 1995, including using fake bank statements.

Another review was set up to establish the facts around the decision to allow Bashir to return to the BBC in 2016, and his subsequent move to become religion editor in 2018.

Ken MacQuarrie, who conducted the inquiry, concluded: “In my view, the recruitment process for the religious affairs rorrespondent was targeted at finding the right person for the role. Although there were some shortcomings in the process by which he was re-employed, I am satisfied that he was ultimately appointed because his knowledge and experience were considered to be the best match to the requirements for the role at that time.

What did we learn in the report?

“I have found no evidence that Martin Bashir was re-hired to contain and/or cover up the events surrounding the 1995 Panorama programme. In my view, that theory is entirely unfounded.

“As regards the due diligence conducted on Martin Bashir, the actions of the individuals involved in the recruitment and re-grading of Martin Bashir can only properly be judged against the state of the BBC’s corporate understanding as it was in 2016 and not as it stands now in 2021.

“None of the individuals involved in the recruitment of Martin Bashir had knowledge of all of the matters contained in the Dyson Report.

“I have no doubt that if any of the individuals involved in the appointment of Martin Bashir in 2016 had been aware of what is now publicly known as a result of the Dyson Report, Martin Bashir would have never been reappointed to the BBC.”

BBC Director-General Tim Davie said: “I would like to thank Ken MacQuarrie for his report. It finds the recruitment process was targeted to find the right person for the role and it was conducted in good faith.

“While the report finds processes were largely followed at the time, it is clear we need to reflect on the findings to ensure consistent best practice is applied in our recruitment.

“Finally, it is without doubt that had the organisation been aware of what is now publicly known because of the Dyson Report Martin Bashir would have never been reappointed.”

The BBC said it will reflect on the findings and look at introducing more rigorous pre-appointment checks – such as checking social media and other online materials – for the recruitment of senior and public facing roles.

MacQuarrie, stepped down as the BBC's Director, Nations and Regions in January 2021, after working 46 years at the BBC.

Since stepping down, he has been working on the BBC's commitment to impartiality.