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The BBC has described the recent fallout from the scandal that has erupted over its landmark 1995 Princess Diana interview a “profoundly sobering period” and has vowed to closely examine its editorial practices.
In a lengthy statement made Monday, just four days after an investigation led by Lord Dyson into Martin Bashir’s Panorama interview with the Princess found that the broadcaster “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark,” the BBC said it accepted the report’s findings in full and “reiterate the apology we have offered to all those affected by the failings identified.”
It added: “We recognise the impact that the events it describes has had on so many people, not least those whose lives were personally affected by what happened.”
Bashir, who left the BBC recently on health grounds, and the program had been under investigation for several months after it was alleged that the journalist used forged bank documents to secure access to the Princess. The report found that Bashir deceived Diana’s brother Charles Spencer by showing him the documents and also that he deceived BBC managers by denying he had shown the documents to anyone.
Following the findings, Prince William blamed failings over the BBC interview for fueling his mother’s paranoia and worsening his parents’ relationship, while Prince Harry said that the “ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices” ultimately took his mother’s life. The BBC has written to apologize to both royals.
In its statement, the BBC board said that while the broadcaster is a “different organisation today, with different and stronger governance, as well as improved processes” than in 1995, it “must not just assume that mistakes of the past cannot be repeated today” and claimed that it would review the effectiveness of the BBC’s editorial policies and governance in detail.
“In doing this, the board will hold the executive to account to ensure there are strong day to day editorial processes and a clear route by which to handle any specific issues arising from Lord Dyson’s report,” it said. “The board will look at the culture of the BBC as part of its remit to assess the effectiveness of policies and practice.”
The review — which will be undertaken by a group of non-executive board directors and submitted by September — will “focus on oversight of the BBC’s editorial practices and will consider in detail the robustness and independence of whistleblowing processes in editorial areas.”
The statement concluded: “This has been a profoundly sobering period for us all. The board of the BBC has absolute faith that the mission and purposes of the BBC endure. We must strive to reinforce confidence in our world-class journalism and prove that we deserve the trust of all our audiences.”
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