In May 2021, the BBC apologized after an external investigation by Lord John Dyson revealed that former BBC journalist Martin Bashir used deceptive tactics to secure the famous 1995 interview with Princess Diana where she spoke about Prince Charles’s infidelity. Now, the broadcaster has announced that it has donated 1.42 million British pounds, or about $1.64 million, to seven different charities associated with the princess and her memory.
“The BBC had indicated its intention to donate to charity the sales proceeds derived from the 1995 Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales,” the broadcaster said in a statement. “The BBC has now done so. Given the findings of Lord Dyson, we think this is the right and appropriate course of action.”
The funds were split equally between the charities. Six of them—Centrepoint, English National Ballet, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, the Leprosy Mission, National AIDS Trust, and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity—are Diana’s former patronages, and the seventh, the Diana Award, was founded after her death to honor young people around the world for their charitable work.
The donations come just over a month after the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie announced that the broadcaster would no longer replay the interview. “Now we know about the shocking way that the interview was obtained, I have decided that the BBC will never show the programme again, nor will we license it in whole or part to other broadcasters,” he said in a statement. “It does of course remain part of the historical record, and there may be occasions in the future when it will be justified for the BBC to use short extracts for journalistic purposes, but these will be few and far between.”
The BBC has also paid sums to a handful of people connected with the interview. Last October, the broadcaster reached an undisclosed settlement with Matt Wiessler, a designer who was blacklisted from working with the BBC after he reported his suspicions about Bashir’s tactics soon after the interview was aired. In March, they announced that they would pay damages to Diana’s former private secretary Patrick Jephson, and in June, they settled with Mark Killick, a producer who raised concerns about the interview in 1996 and was soon fired.
In July, they paid damages to former royal nanny Alexandra “Tiggy” Legge-Bourke, who is now known by her married name Pettifer, after the Dyson report revealed that Bashir had lied about her relationship to Charles. In court, Pettifer’s lawyer said the claims included “the very serious and totally unfounded allegations that the claimant was having an affair with HRH Prince of Wales, resulting in a pregnancy which was aborted,” adding that “these allegations were fabricated.”
In court, the BBC said it fully accepted that the claims “were wholly baseless, should never have been made, and that the BBC did not, at the time, adequately investigate serious concerns” about the interview.
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