The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced on Monday that it will review its editorial policy and governance after an independent report concluded that one of its reporters had conducted a landmark interview with Princess Diana by deception.
The BBC’s board stated that the internal investigation will be conducted by a group of non-executive directors led by its senior independent director Nick Serota and will report in September.
“We must not just assume that mistakes of the past cannot be repeated today — we must make sure that this is the case,” the board of governors said in a lengthy statement.
“We think it is right that we review the effectiveness of the BBC´s editorial policies and governance in detail,” it added.
An investigation by retired senior judge John Dyson concluded last Thursday that journalist Martin Bashir had tricked Diana´s brother Charles Spencer into helping to arrange the 1995 interview, in which she spoke candidly about her troubled marriage to Prince Charles.
Bashir commissioned a forged bank statement, falsely suggesting that the security department was paying Diana’s closest assistants to keep an eye on her.
Then, he showed them Spencer’s successful bid to win their trust and cause a sensation.
Dyson´s report also found the BBC´s own internal probes into longstanding allegations of impropriety by Bashir were “woefully ineffective”.
Princes William and Harry, Diana´s two sons, have severely criticised Bashir and the BBC over their conduct, saying his actions contributed to events that led to Diana´s death in a car crash nearly two years after the interview.
But Bashir has defended himself, arguing that Diana was eager to speak out and that he should not be held responsible for “many of the other things that were going on in her life”.
The BBC said its latest review would assess the strength of “day-to-day editorial processes and a clear route by which to handle any specific issues” arising from the damning report.
“The board will look at the culture of the BBC as part of its remit to assess the effectiveness of policies and practice,” it vowed.
“Their work 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.”
After the report was released, the government and critics again applied pressure from broadcasters funded by mandatory annual subscription fees.
Earlier Monday, Culture Minister Oliver Dowden accused it of adopting a “we know best” attitude in the scandal.
John Whittingdale, a junior minister in Dowden´s department, welcomed the BBC announcement, urging the board to address shortcomings to ensure “that this can never happen again”.
It was “an even greater source of shame” that the scandal had occurred at “the most trusted and reliable broadcaster in the world”, he told parliament.
But with right-wing critics and rival operators lining up to excoriate the organisation, Whittingdale added that “there is no question of defunding the BBC or dismantling it”.