BBC journalist Martin Bashir has resigned from the network due to health reasons amid an investigation into whether he obtained an explosive 1995 interview with Princess Diana through deceptive means.
The BBC started an investigation last November to determine whether the journalist used fake documents to force Diana into agreeing to the sit-down interview, which later became a watershed moment in TV history.
In the interview, Diana famously told Bashir her marriage was “a bit crowded” and that there were “three of us in this marriage,” referring not just to herself but also to her then-husband Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, whom Charles would later marry.
NBC’s “TODAY” show obtained an internal statement sent to BBC staff recently, which announced Bashir’s departure from the news organization.
“Martin Bashir has stepped down from his position as the BBC’s Religion Editor, and is leaving the Corporation,” the statement read. “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. We wish him a complete and speedy recovery.”
Last year, the BBC revealed that Bashir — who has also worked for MSNBC and ABC during his decadeslong career — was recovering from serious coronavirus complications and heart surgery.
Bashir’s 1995 tell-all with Diana was watched by 20 million people in the United Kingdom and sent shock waves through the British royal family. Diana would later divorce Charles in 1996, just months after the interview. She then died the next year in a car crash in Paris while being pursued by paparazzi.
“This interview was seminal, it was so important because it was the first time that Diana put on record feelings about her royal life and marriage,” NBC News contributor and royal commentator Camilla Tominey said in November. “… It was always going to be sensational, explosive and headline grabbing.”
The interview came under renewed scrutiny after the release of a documentary by British broadcaster ITV called “The Diana Interview: Revenge of a Princess.” The documentary claimed that Bashir had a graphic designer create fake bank statements, which he then allegedly used to convince Diana that royal employees were being paid to spy on her.
Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, tweeted on Nov. 8 that he knew Bashir “used fake bank statements and other dishonesty to get my sister to do the interview.” Spencer also claimed that he found out that the BBC knew about the fake bank statements as well. He demanded the network apologize for the falsified documents that led him to introduce Bashir to his sister.
A statement issued by Kensington Palace in November said that Prince William, Diana’s eldest son, “tentatively welcomed the investigation.”
“The independent investigation is a step in the right direction,” William said in the statement. “It should help establish the truth behind the actions that led to the Panorama interview and subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time.”
A spokesperson for the BBC said the results of the network’s investigation will be published “very soon.”