The ripples set off by some of Princess Diana’s unintended and often well-intentioned actions don’t seem to die down, even long after the royal’s untimely death, in 1997.
Tony Hall, who was director of BBC news and current affairs at the time of the public broadcasters explosive 1995 interview with Princess Diana, resigned Saturday as board chairman of Britain’s National Gallery.
Hall, who subsequently rose to the top job at the BBC, was heavily criticized in a report this week for a botched inquiry into how journalist Martin Bashir obtained the blockbuster interview.
In a statement, the 70-year-old said his continued presence at the gallery would be a “distraction to an institution I care deeply about.” “As I said two days ago, I am very sorry for the events of 25 years ago and I believe leadership means taking responsibility,” said Hall, who served as the BBC’s director-general from 2013 until 2020.
John Kingman, the deputy chair of the National Gallery’s board of trustees, will assume Hall’s role for the time being. He said the gallery was extremely sorry to lose Hall but that “we entirely understand and respect his decision.”
The 126-page report by retired Judge John Dyson, published Thursday, found the internal BBC investigation had covered up deceitful behaviour by Bashir, who was little-known as a journalist when he interviewed Diana.
The BBC also has faced questions about why Bashir was rehired in 2016 as the broadcaster’s religious affairs correspondent.
Diana’s sons, Princes William and Harry, have excoriated the BBC since the publication of the report, saying there was a direct link between the 1995 interview and their mother’s death in a traffic accident two years later as she and a companion were being pursued by paparazzi.
The BBC commissioned the report after Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, complained that Bashir used false documents and other dishonest tactics to persuade Diana to grant the interview.
In the interview, Diana said her marriage to Prince Charles had failed because he was still in love with former lover Camilla Parker Bowles, whom Charles would go on to marry a decade later.
Diana, then 34, said she was devastated when she found out in 1986 five years after her marriage that Charles had renewed his relationship with Camilla. Diana said she was so depressed that she deliberately hurt herself in a desperate bid for help.
There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,? Diana famously remarked.
The fallout from the report has raised serious doubts about the BBCs integrity, while the British government has said it would review the rules governing the oversight of the editorially independent national broadcaster.
The BBC, which was founded in 1922, is funded by a license fee payable by everyone. The rules governing its operations are set out in a royal charter that requires the corporation to be impartial, act in the public interest and be open, transparent and accountable. A mid-term review of the BBCs governance is scheduled to begin next year.
Martin Bashir, a BBC journalist, is pointedly blamed in the report by senior judge John Dyson published on Thursday. [Bashir reportedly tricked princess Diana into giving an explosive interview]. Bashir, on Sunday, apologised to Princes William and Harry and said reports linking his actions to Diana’s death were “unreasonable.”
The John Dyson report said Bashir got faked bank statements to indicate that suggested that the secret service had been paying Diana’s close aides to keep tabs on her.
An AFP report said Bashir “showed them to Diana’s brother Charles Spencer in a successful bid to convince him to arrange a meeting between himself and Diana and earn her trust.”
The same AFP report quoted Bashir as telling the Sunday Times that he was “deeply sorry” to Diana’s sons Prince William and Prince Harry. “I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did,” he reportedly told the paper.
Prince William said his mother was failed not only by a rogue reporter but also by the leadership of the BBC.
A statement on today’s report of The Dyson Investigation pic.twitter.com/uS62CNwiI8
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) May 20, 2021
He said the interview played a role in making his parents’ “relationship worse.” He also said it “contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation” in her final years.
BBC’s royal affairs correspondent Jonny Dymond wrote so in his analysis: “It’s hard to overstate the strength of feeling expressed by William.”
Prince William also thanked the BBC for accepting the John Dyson report in total.