AceShowbiz - BBC bosses are planning to return a BAFTA award the network won in 1996 for Martin Bashir's TV chat with Princess Diana, following claims the journalist deceived her brother to secure the interview.
The 1995 TV sit-down remains one of the most explosive royal interviews in BBC history and it helped turn Bashir into a much-respected broadcaster, who later secured another controversial exclusive with Michael Jackson.
But now former Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson has concluded that Bashir made a "serious breach" of the BBC's editorial guidelines by creating false bank statements to manipulate the then-Princess of Wales and her brother, Earl Spencer, into giving the interview.
Lord Dyson said Bashir "deceived" his way to the interview, and suggested BBC bosses "fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark."
Responding to the findings, a spokesman for the network says, "The 1995 Panorama interview received a number of awards at the time. We do not believe it is acceptable to retain these awards because of how the interview was obtained."
The Panorama interview picked up a BAFTA in 1996 for Best Television Talk Show, while Bashir was named Journalist of the Year and Interviewer of the Year at the Royal Television Society Awards, among other accolades.
In a statement, BBC director general Tim Davie said, "Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was keen on the idea of an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect. We are very sorry for this. Lord Dyson has identified clear failings."
Bashir has also acknowledged his error of judgement, adding, "This is the second time that I have willingly fully co-operated with an investigation into events more than 25 years ago. I apologised then, and I do so again now, over the fact that I asked for bank statements to be mocked up. It was a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret. But I absolutely stand by the evidence I gave a quarter of a century ago, and again more recently."