MPs to demand answers over why Martin Bashir was rehired by the BBC

MPs to demand answers over why Martin Bashir was rehired by the BBC to cover religion even though the corporation knew he lied to secure Diana interview

  • Committee to demand answer to why rogue reporter Bashir was rehired by BBC 
  • MPs call for a new probe for outstanding matters raised by Lord Dyson in report
  • Former director of BBC News James Harding took responsibility for the rehiring 

The BBC was warned last night it still had ‘serious questions to answer’ over the Martin Bashir scandal amid growing calls for a fresh investigation.

A powerful parliamentary committee said it would demand urgent answers as to why the corporation rehired the rogue reporter to cover religion in 2016 despite knowing he had lied to secure his bombshell 1995 interview with Diana.

And MPs and former ministers said there should be a new probe to look into other outstanding matters that Lord Dyson raised in his damning report, such as if Bashir used forged documents in another high-profile programme and whether the BBC had a culture of hostility towards whistleblowers. 

Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee chairman Julian Knight is demanding urgent answers

Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee chairman Julian Knight said last night: ‘In the wake of the Dyson report there are serious questions still left to answer. Namely, why was Martin Bashir rehired, with the BBC knowing what they knew? I am writing to the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie for urgent answers.’

He went on: ‘I want to know how the BBC can reassure the committee that there could be no repeat of the serious failings that have been highlighted by the Dyson report. Now more than ever the BBC must show transparency and honesty in its response.’ Ex-culture minister David Mellor said Lord Dyson should carry out the further inquiry. ‘This is not going to go away and he should be invited to do a supplementary report on the unanswered questions,’ he said.

Yesterday, former director of BBC News James Harding took responsibility for the rehiring. But he refused to say if former director-general Lord Hall – who carried an internal review that cleared Bashir of wrongdoing 20 years earlier – had any role in the appointment.

‘What I was saying is that BBC News hired Martin Bashir and so the responsibility for that sits with me,’ he told BBC News.

The Martin Bashir interview with Princess Diana in November 1995, which used mocked up bank statements to get her speak

In his report, Lord Dyson raised the issue of whether Bashir had used ‘similar techniques of document fabrication and deceit’ in a Panorama programme about former football manager Terry Venables. Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told the Mail: ‘Lord Dyson has got to the core of it but there are other issues. I think the BBC should commission someone independent to look into them.’

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told Radio 4’s Today programme he was sure there would be an ‘opportunity’ for a second inquiry if there were issues that Lord Dyson wasn’t able to look into.

Asked about Bashir’s appointment, the BBC said last night: ‘The post was filled after a competitive interview process. He has resigned from the BBC. There has been no pay off.’ A spokesman added: ‘We now have a thorough and industry-leading whistleblowing scheme.’

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