Independent probe into Martin Bashir’s Princess Diana BBC interview faces a ‘delay of months’ as pressure mounts on Met Police to launch criminal investigation
- An independent probe is underway into the bombshell 1995 Panorama interview
- But complaint has now been lodged with Met Police by a former security adviser
- The independent probe may be delayed due to fears of prejudicing police probe
An independent probe into BBC journalist Martin Bashir’s Princess Diana interview faces a ‘delay of months’ after a separate legal complaint was lodged with police.
Pressure is mounting on the Metropolitan Police to launch its own criminal investigation into background of the bombshell 1995 Panorama interview.
It is alleged Mr Bashir created a string of lies – including ordering a graphic artist to create fake bank statements – to trick the Princess into the world exclusive.
Lord Dyson, a former Master of the Rolls and Head of the Court of Appeal, is leading an independent investigation into the circumstances around the interview.
But the Met Police could now launch a separate criminal investigation after a complaint by Earl Spencer’s former security chief Alan Waller over the alleged faking of his bank statements.
The force, which confirmed it had received a complaint, said no police investigation has yet been launched.
But there are now concerns that any police probe could spark a delay in the independent inquiry, the Mirror reports.
It is alleged Mr Bashir created a string of lies – including ordering a graphic artist to create fake bank statements – to trick the Princess into the world exclusive (pictured: A still from the 1995 interview)
Lord Dyson, a former Master of the Rolls and Head of the Court of Appeal, is leading an independent investigation into the circumstances around the interview
But the Met Police (pictured: Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick) could now launch a separate criminal investigation after a complaint by Earl Spencer’s former security chief Alan Waller over the alleged faking of his bank statements
The concerns come because of a potential risk of the results of an independent inquiry prejudicing any police probe and subsequent trial.
Lord Dyson, a former Master of the Rolls and Head of the Court of Appeal, is understood to have told colleagues he intends to ‘press on’ with his independent investigation, according to the paper.
It comes as Mr Waller’s lawyer is said to have written to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to request an investigation into ‘very serious concerns’ over an alleged conspiracy to ‘create an instrument of fraud’.
Anton van Dellen accused Mr Bashir, who is now the BBC’s religious affairs editor, of ‘dishonest conduct’ and claimed the BBC ‘benefited’ while knowing the reporter’s actions were ‘unlawful’, according to reports in the Telegraph.
Mr Waller, 57, a former British Army paratrooper and an ex-US Marine, previously said he was considering making a complaint to police.
The statements forged for Mr Bashir wrongly showed Mr Waller had been taking payments from the press in return for information about Diana.
Mr Waller said in November that the faked bank statements had a ‘devastating effect’ on him. He described how he contemplated suicide while working outside the UK.
Mr van Dellen’s letter, which the Telegraph said it had seen, was said to say: ‘In 1995, two BBC employees or agents engaged in a conspiracy to create an instrument of fraud, namely a purported copy of Mr Alan Waller’s bank statements.
‘Mr Martin Bashir agreed with a graphic artist, Matt Wiessler, to create a bank statement purporting to belong to Mr Alan Waller.
Earl Spencer’s former security chief Alan Waller (pictured) has complained to police over the faking of his bank statements which were used by Martin Bashir to gain an interview with Princess Diana
Mr van Dellen said the faked bank statements, which were allegedly commissioned by Mr Bashir (pictured) had caused ‘significant reputational and financial loss’ to his client
‘The fraudulent bank statement was then used to persuade Charles Spencer of Mr Bashir’s purported credentials and Mr Bashir subsequently gained an inteview with the late Princess Diana to conduct the most significant interview to date for the BBC.’
Mr van Dellen reportedly said the faked bank statements had caused ‘significant reputational and financial loss’ to his client.
The letter added that the BBC ‘wrongfully benefited’ from Mr Bashir’s actions and claimed the corporation knew it was engaged in ‘unlawful activity’.
A spokesman for the Met Police said: ‘We can confirm that correspondence has been received alleging unlawful activity.
‘Any information received will be assessed accordingly. At this time, there is no police investigation.’
Graphic designer Mr Wiessler previously said he mocked up the statements in the belief they were faithful reproductions of genuine documents.
His explosive revelations triggered the scandal involving Mr Bashir.
The BBC has appointed retired judge and former master of the rolls, Lord Dyson, to lead an inquiry into what steps the BBC and Mr Bashir took to land the interview with Diana.
Earl Spencer has alleged Mr Bashir showed him the fake financial documents and told untrue stories about the royal family to gain access to his sister.
The documents also falsely suggested that Diana’s then private secretary – Patrick Jephson – and another royal household member were being paid by the security services to spy on the Princess.
Earl Spencer has alleged Mr Bashir showed him the fake financial documents and told untrue stories about the royal family to gain access to his sister
The claims fuelled her fears about her safety and privacy.
Former BBC director-general Lord Hall in 1996 led an internal BBC investigation into the circumstances surrounding the interview, which led news bulletins around the world and sent shockwaves through the royal family.
The BBC previously said in a statement that Mr Bashir had admitted commissioning the bank statements.
It is understood the journalist was found to have ‘done wrong’ at the end of the process. It is not known if he faced any sanction.
The BBC said Mr Bashir is seriously ill with Covid-19-related complications and was not in a position to respond to Earl Spencer’s allegations.
He was however pictured near his home at the end of last year carrying a takeaway meal.
A spokeswoman for the corporation previously said: ‘A lot has been written and broadcast about the Princess of Wales’s interview in recent weeks. It is important that we have a view of what happened based on the evidence of everyone involved. Clearly that has not yet been able to happen.
‘But to be absolutely clear, the BBC is determined to get to the truth of what happened. That’s why we have appointed Lord Dyson to lead a fully independent investigation.
‘It is vital that everyone with information shares that with Lord Dyson, so that he can investigate thoroughly and draw his conclusions having heard all the evidence.
Last month, it emerged the BBC’s inquiry is scrutinising a handwritten letter from Diana which apparently showered Mr Bashir with praise.
The note went missing for more than 20 years after a Panorama staff member took it home as a souvenir. It was however handed in in November.
The BBC is now using the letter to suggest Diana never saw the faked financial documents commissioned by Mr Bashir.
The letter on Kensington Palace stationery also purports to heap praise on the BBC’s shamed religion editor.
The contents of the letter has not been made public, but was examined by the previous 1996 internal investigation.
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