BBC bosses have questions to answer, writes ANDY WEBB

BBC bosses who fought to keep THOUSANDS of documents linked to Bashir’s infamous interview with Diana under wraps have questions to answer

As a veteran journalist and filmmaker, I’m used to battling with big and powerful institutions to discover their secrets. But my two-year legal tussle with BBC bosses has been quite extraordinary.

They have fought tooth and nail to keep 3,000 documents linked to Martin Bashir’s infamous interview with Princess Diana under wraps – equal to more than 10,000 pages of undisclosed material.

Earlier this year, over two days, I argued my case to Judge Brian Kennedy KC, overseeing an information tribunal. I urged him to agree with me that it is overwhelmingly in the public interest for these internal emails to be divulged to the public.

Lined up against me was the BBC’s formidable six-strong legal team, led by barrister Jason Pobjoy, who represented Boris Johnson during the Partygate allegations. It’s perhaps no surprise the Corporation has spent an astonishing £100,000 of licence-payers’ money, just on their external legal fees.

You may well ask what else is there to say about Bashir’s outrageous entrapment of Diana?

We know that the reporter only landed his sensational 1995 interview with the Princess by peddling a litany of lies and smears to her. We also know, thanks to Lord Dyson’s excoriating report in 2021, that BBC bosses at the time covered up much of what they knew about Bashir’s deceit.

The BBC have fought tooth and nail to keep 3,000 documents linked to Martin Bashir ‘s infamous interview with Princess Diana (pictured) under wraps

The remaining secrets surrounding the Bashir scandal might now finally see the light of day. Pictured: Martin Bashir last month

But I have long believed that there is a much bigger story here and that the Corporation’s attempts to hush up this scandal did not end 28 years ago.

Indeed, I believe that in 2020, when the scale of Bashir’s deception finally began to emerge, senior figures currently running the BBC planned a completely new and cynical campaign to mislead the public about what was known about the reporter’s nefarious activities.

That is why I was delighted to learn Judge Kennedy has ordered the Corporation hand over huge swathe of emails sent by BBC managers between September and November 2020.

Since his ruling – and his blistering condemnation of the BBC – I’ve had messages of support from some of those most closely affected by the Corporation’s past conduct, including Patrick Jephson, Diana’s former private secretary.

Most significant of all has been the reaction of Earl Spencer, Diana’s brother, who was delighted that the truth might now emerge.

Crucially, the emails I have fought so hard to see may now reveal that the BBC attempted to blacken the Earl’s name.

Who in the BBC hierarchy authorised the release, to me, in October 2020, of the extraordinary memo which falsely claimed that Spencer had colluded with Bashir? That Spencer had shown Bashir the bank statement of an ex-employee?

This was an astonishing allegation, and totally untrue. But why did the BBC make it public?

And why did the BBC withhold a crucial 1996 memo, from another BBC executive, that indicated a cynical cover-up and declared: ‘The Diana story is probably now dead, unless Spencer talks’?

Thanks to Judge Kennedy’s ruling, all may soon become clear.

I firmly believe that last week’s judgment is a sign that the last remaining cover-up of this sordid saga has begun to unravel. The remaining secrets surrounding the Bashir scandal might now finally see the light of day.

Source: Read Full Article