The BBC spent £150,000 trying to keep documents relating to the Princess Diana Panorama controversy a secret, it has been claimed.
Martin Bashir’s 1995 interview with the late royal was secured through forged documents, Lord Dyson’s inquiry discovered in 2021.
Under freedom of information laws, the BBC has been ordered to share internal emails that may uncover how senior executives behaved when they discovered Bashir’s actions.
For the past two-and-a-half years, the broadcaster has fought attempts by journalist Andrew Webb to access the material.
Princess Diana sat down for the BBC interview in 1995
In doing so, the BBC has racked up a bill of £151,830 on external legal advice, which does not include the cost of internal lawyers and other employees.
Jason Pobjoy, who represented Prince Harry in his battle with the Home Office over his security arrangements, has represented the BBC at several court hearings.
The corporation is expected to hand over about 10,000 pages of data to Webb today. Webb believes the BBC covered up the Bashir scandal in 1995 and also in 2020 when he made a documentary about the scandal.
In 2021, Lord Dyson, a former Supreme Court justice, published a report claiming Bashir used “deceitful behaviour” by forging bank statements to make it appear that members of Diana’s staff were being paid by the media.
Princess Diana being interviewed by Martin Bashir for Panorama
Lord Dyson also stated the BBC covered up what it knew about Bashir’s behaviour in the 1990s.
Webb is trying to discover who decided in 2020 to withhold a key document, later given to Lord Dyson, which outlined how the original cover-up happened.
The document was withheld when Webb was making his documentary about the 1995 interview.
Webb believes that senior managers currently at the BBC might be implicated in what he has termed “the cover-up of the cover-up” in 2020.
Martin Bashir photographed in 2019 – 24 years after the Panorama interview
Prince William issued a statement after the Lord Dyson inquiry saying the interview ‘contributed significantly to [Princess Diana’s] fear, paranoia and isolation’
After Lord Dyson published his report in 2021, Prince William issued the following statement: “It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others.
“It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.
“But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived. She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.
“It is my firm view that this Panorama programme holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again. It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialised by the BBC and others.”