In a memo to staff on Friday afternoon, Jonathan Munro, the BBC’s deputy director of news, wrote: “Martin Bashir has stepped down from his position as the BBC’s Religion Editor, and is leaving the Corporation. He let us know of his decision last month, just before being readmitted to hospital for another surgical procedure on his heart. Although he underwent major surgery toward the end of last year, he is facing some ongoing issues and has decided to focus on his health.
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“We wish him a complete and speedy recovery.”
Bashir and the program have been under investigation for several months after it was alleged in documentaries on U.K. broadcasters ITV and Channel 4 that the journalist may have used forged bank documents to secure access to the princess.
The forged statements allegedly showed that two senior courtiers were being paid by security services for information on Diana. The statements were seen by Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, who has said that they were the basis of him introducing Bashir to his sister.
Princess Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, called for an enquiry into the matter and got in touch with BBC director-general Tim Davie. “The BBC is taking this very seriously and we want to get to the truth,” Davie had said in November 2020.
Spencer also wrote to the London Metropolitan Police, alleging a security breach. However, in March, the police ruled out an investigation.
The BBC inquiry, led by Lord Dyson, is ongoing.
The “Panorama” program investigated itself and is set to air a special on how Bashir secured the Princess Diana interview. The broadcast of the program was postponed due to the myriad schedule changes caused by Prince Philip’s death.
Bashir, 58, has been ill for several months. He contracted and recovered from COVID-19 and then underwent a quadruple bypass surgery.
The 1995 “Panorama” interview, in which the princess revealed her troubled relationship with Prince Charles, grabbed headlines around the world.
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