Earl Spencer sourced Martin Bashir’s fake bank statements, BBC report claimed

Victoria Ward
·3-min read
Martin Bashir -  Credit: /Walt Disney Television
Martin Bashir - Credit: /Walt Disney Television

An internal BBC report on the Panorama scandal, written by former director general Tony Hall, claimed that Earl Spencer was the source of Martin Bashir’s fake bank statements, rather than the target, it has emerged.

Bashir is accused of falsifying documents into order to persuade Lord Spencer to introduce him to his sister, Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1995.

He has been accused of preying on both siblings’ insecurities by creating statements that suggested trusted confidantes were in the pay of the security services.

However, a documentary to be broadcast on Channel 4 on Monday night highlights the fact that Lord Hall, then the BBC’s head of news, told the board of governors, after conducting an internal inquiry into the allegations, that Lord Spencer had fed Bashir with information, giving the reporter a bank statement to copy.

The report, released under Freedom of Information laws, said that while Bashir was in discussions with Lord Spencer, “Martin took information he had got from the highest level and made them into a graphic using the bank statement Spencer had given him.”  

The report was accepted at a BBC board of governors meeting in April 1996, which concluded Bashir was “an honest man” who had been “foolish.”

The Diana Interview: The Truth Behind the Scandal, also raises fresh questions about a letter apparently written by the Princess to the BBC, exonerating Bashir of anything untoward.

Martin Bashir interviews Princess Diana in Kensington Palace for the television program Panorama - Tim Graham/ Corbis Historical
Martin Bashir interviews Princess Diana in Kensington Palace for the television program Panorama - Tim Graham/ Corbis Historical

The handwritten note reportedly states: “This is to confirm that I gave you the interview freely and was not influenced by any documents.”

It is said to have been dated December 1995, several months before Bashir’s alleged use of fake bank statements became public knowledge.

Patrick Jephson, the Princess’s private secretary, who was kept in the dark about the Panorama interview, said he had no knowledge of the note being written.

He told the documentary: “Was it written on office stationery? What’s the letterhead? I’m told it was handwritten.

“Well, what were the circumstances in which Diana wrote it? Was it dictated to her - or was it something that she was asked to write?”

He added: “When we actually see this letter - and once it’s been analysed - I could tell you a lot about it. Just from just from the paper it was written on.”

The BBC had repeatedly insisted that the note had been lost, until last month, when it was suddenly discovered in archives.

The letter will likely form a key part of evidence in the independent inquiry being led by Lord Dyson, former Master of the Rolls, into the furore.

Mr Jephson accused Bashr of going to “sinister” lengths to study him, finding out where he went on holiday and studying his past career as an officer in the Royal Navy.

“This to me is really creepy,” he said. “Somebody quite cold blooded, forensically, taking my life apart and using bits of it for his own nefarious purposes. That that makes me feel angry, doesn’t begin to describe it.”

The documentary also claims that months after Bashir moved from the BBC to ITV, the BBC’s head of current affairs wrote a “stiff” letter to its commercial rival, complaining that Bashir was attempting to stifle Panorama investigations by telling lies about its reporters.

The BBC and Lord Hall were contacted for comment