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Princess Diana Interview Scandal: UK Culture Secretary Slams BBC, Calls For “Cultural Change”

Oliver Dowden, UK culture secretary, called for a change in the BBC; accusing the broadcaster of adopting a “we know best” attitude after a independent investigation proved that the controversial 1995 interview of late Diana, Princess of Wales, by its former journalist Martin Bashir was acquired by “deceit”.


Writing for The Times on Monday, Dowden said, “The BBC needs to improve its culture to ensure that this never happens again and that means a new emphasis on accuracy, impartiality, and diversity of opinion. As others have observed, the BBC can occasionally succumb to a “we know best” attitude. Groupthink in any organisation results in a lack of challenge and poor decision making. That is why cultural change must be a focus after the Dyson Report.”

He said that the scandal “exposed failures that strike at the heart of our national broadcaster’s values and culture”.

The opinion piece comes after the release of the Dyson Report by the BBC, which was the outcome of an independent investigation into the circumstances that led to the 1995 Panorama interview with the late Princess of Wales. The interview stirred controversy after she opened up about her disintegrating marriage with Prince Charles, and said “there were three of us” referring to Camilla Parker Bowles, who later married Prince Charles.

Dowden said that the government would not “stand idly by” and that the BBC’s mid-term charter review will be used as an opportunity to examine “whether the governance and regulatory arrangements should be strengthened”.

The BBC board appointed Lord Dyson to lead the investigation on November 18, 2020. He examined documents and records from the time and interviewed several people involved in the making of the program.


The report concluded that “without justification” the BBC “covered up… facts as it had been able to establish about how Mr Bashir secured the interview” despite the fact that Bashir “had lied three times when he said that he had not shown the fake statements to Earl Spencer [Princess Diana’s brother]” adding that those were “serious lies”.

Lord Dyson added that the BBC also “failed to mention the issue at all on any news programme and thereby fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”.

Accepting Lord Dyson’s findings, BBC director-general Tim Davie said in a statement that the report had identified “clear failings”.