10:01 AM PDT, May 17, 2021
Veteran journalist Martin Bashir has officially quit his position at the BBC prior to the release of an internal investigation concerning tactics he allegedly employed to secure a 1995 interview with the late Princess Diana.
Tim Davie, BBC Director General, commissioned an independent inquiry following pressure from Diana’s family, who requested the publication investigate how Bashir conducted his decades-old interview with Princess Diana and whether he used fake documents to gain the trust of the family, The Guardian reported.
The interview was aired on Panorama, the investigative documentary arm of the network.
Bashir, 58, has worked as BBC News religion editor but was seriously ill with COVID-19 amid allegations that surfaced last year. He had been on sick leave for months, having also recently undergone a quadruple heart bypass and another heart operation, BBC reported.
His departure comes six months after the network announced it appointed a judge to lead the investigation.
“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 the hospital for another surgical procedure on his heart,” Jonathan Munro, BBC Deputy Director of news, wrote in a statement obtained by The Guardian.
“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.”
The network has completed the inquiry and is now preparing it for publication. It is expected to be released “very soon,” the outlet reported. Panorama will also be airing a special series on the program.
Bashir’s career took flight in the wake of the Diana interview, which garnered tens of millions of viewers. In the interview, Diana discussed her intimate life with Prince Charles and made an infamous statement that there were “three of us in this marriage,” referencing Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, according to The Guardian.
After the program aired, there was speculation regarding whether Bashir used fake bank statements to convince Diana’s brother that the media were paying associates of the family for information, in an attempt to gain the trust of her family, the Guardian reported.
BBC says that they have a handwritten note from Diana, which stated that the documents in question had “no part in her decision to take part in the interview,” according to the outlet.
Bashir has reportedly fully cooperated with the network’s inquiry and did not publicly comment on the process, BBC reported. The Metropolitan Police investigated if Bashir had committed any crime in connection to the documents Bashir allegedly presented to Diana, but officials in March said “no further action” would be taken against him.