Martin Bashir ‘should give back tainted award’: BBC reporter scooped journalist of the year for controversial Princess Diana exclusive and now faces calls to return prize
- Bashir named journalist of the year at Royal Television Society awards in 1996
- Now he is facing pressure to hand back his honours as the Diana inquiry looms
- There are allegations he tricked Diana and forged documents to secure interview
Posing in a dinner jacket, Martin Bashir clutches two awards for his Princess Diana Panorama exclusive.
The BBC reporter was named journalist of the year and interviewer of the year at the ‘Oscars’ of broadcasting, the Royal Television Society awards, in 1996.
Now he is facing pressure to hand back his honours as an inquiry looms into allegations that he tricked Diana with lies about the Royal Family and forged documents.
It is understood the judges were tied on the night between honouring Bashir and ITN foreign correspondent Paul Davies, who had reported from the frontline of the war in Bosnia, including the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica. A source who was there on the night of the awards said: ‘Bashir got journalist of the year, but it was hotly disputed.
Posing in a dinner jacket, Martin Bashir (far left) clutches two awards for his Princess Diana Panorama exclusive
‘One of the judging panel told me it was split down the middle, with Bashir only winning thanks to the casting vote of the panel chairman.
‘There was quite a lot of disquiet because some felt that a pre-arranged sit-down interview in the comfort of a royal palace was not comparable to the considerable risks taken by a war reporter filming his dispatches under enemy fire.’
They joked: ‘Davies should be dusting off his bow tie.’
Charles Spencer, Diana’s brother, is among those calling for the BBC to be stripped of the awards it won for the interview in November 1995 with his vulnerable sister.
Panorama also won a Bafta, and an accolade from the Television and Radio Industries Club, and Bashir got a Broadcasting Press Guild award. Last week the BBC announced an investigation to be conducted by Lord Dyson.
Martin is facing pressure to hand back his honours as an inquiry looms into allegations that he tricked Diana with lies about the Royal Family and forged documents in order to secure the famous interview (pictured)
The former Master of the Rolls was the most senior civil judge in England and Wales. The broadcaster has been praised for securing the retired Supreme Court judge, with Diana’s son Prince William welcoming the appointment.
Earl Spencer is said to be impressed by Lord Dyson – but he has blasted the limited scope of the BBC’s inquiry, questioning whether it has the ability to expose possible ‘criminality’.
Rosa Monckton, a close friend of Diana, has said the BBC made a lot of money from a ‘criminal offence’, a reference to claims Bashir used forged documents to land his scoop.
The BBC reporter was named journalist of the year and interviewer of the year at the ‘Oscars’ of broadcasting, the Royal Television Society awards, in 1996. He is pictured with his award at the event
The corporation banked £1million from selling global rights to the interview, according to the New York Times.
Bashir, 57, now the BBC’s religion editor, is off work sick, having contracted coronavirus and undergoing a quadruple heart bypass operation.
He has been ‘too ill’ to answer questions and will not be forced to co-operate with the inquiry, which is expected to take six months.
Last night Theresa Wise, chief executive of the Royal Television Society, said: ‘The BBC has launched an investigation and it would be inappropriate for our organisation to comment until Lord Dyson has concluded his inquiry.’
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