BBC chief warns fake bank slips in Diana interview may be criminal

Pressure for police probe as BBC chief says Martin Bashir may have committed a crime… and Scotland Yard assesses report for new evidence

  • Richard Ayre, then BBC controller of editorial policy, warned Bashir may have committed a crime when using fake bank statements to secure Diana interview
  • Critics say the Dyson report provides ‘clear and unequivocal evidence’ to pursue
  • Official complaints made to Scotland Yard in January alleging potential fraud

Scotland Yard faced pressure to investigate Martin Bashir yesterday after the BBC’s former editorial policy chief suggested he had committed a crime.

Last night detectives were assessing Lord Dyson’s report on Bashir’s interview with Diana to consider if there is any ‘significant new evidence’ that would merit an investigation.

The move comes amid growing calls for the force to reverse its controversial decision not to investigate Bashir.

Critics said the Dyson report had provided ‘clear and unequivocal evidence’ that must be pursued.

Yesterday it emerged that Richard Ayre, the BBC’s controller of editorial policy in 1995, believed Bashir, the BBC’s former religion editor, may have committed a crime when he used fake bank statements to secure his interview with Diana.

In evidence to Lord Dyson, Mr Ayre said: ‘I have no doubt that if he did what is, as I understand it, alleged, that of course would have been unacceptable.’

Richard Ayre, then BBC controller of editorial policy, believed Bashir may have committed a crime when he used fake bank slips to secure his 1995 interview with Princess Diana

He suggested it would be a criminal offence to approach anyone with a forged document that defamed people. ‘Of course it would have been indefensible,’ he added.

A lawyer for Earl Spencer’s former head of security, Alan Waller, made an official complaint to Scotland Yard Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick in January alleging potential fraud. 

He accused Bashir of ‘dishonest conduct’ and said the BBC had ‘benefited’ while being aware that his actions were ‘unlawful’.

But after spending three months assessing the claims, police announced they would be taking no further action.

That decision was described as a ‘farce’ yesterday by a former head of royal protection, who said many questions had been left unanswered.

Ex-chief superintendent Dai Davies, who once led the Metropolitan Police royal protection unit, said: ‘It seems to me there is clear and unequivocal evidence that the Met Police should be at the very least investigating these allegations. 

Richard Ayre, then BBC controller of editorial policy, believed Bashir may have committed a crime when he used fake bank slips to secure his 1995 interview with Princess Diana (above)

‘I simply cannot understand why they won’t investigate given what I understand from the testimony may be a crime.

‘It seems there’s one rule for the BBC and one rule for the rest of us. Normally there would be a criminal inquiry before a civil inquiry.

‘I’m absolutely flabbergasted that there was not enough basic evidence of forgery and fraud here. It beggars belief.’

Ex-chief superintendent Dai Davies said: ‘It seems to me that there is clear and unequivocal evidence that the Met Police should be at the very least investigating these allegations’

Mr Davies added: ‘What is it the Met don’t understand about the word dishonest? 

‘My concern is that others may have covered this up and if it was a crime, they may have conspired to conceal forged documents and that concealment could amount to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.’

Metropolitan Police Commander Alex Murray, who leads the force on specialist crime, announced in March that legal advice had been sought from the Crown Prosecution Service and independent lawyers before it was decided not to launch a probe. 

The commander has previously come under fire for not pursuing another alleged scandal in 2019, after Virginia Roberts alleged she was trafficked to Britain by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with Prince Andrew, who denies the claim.

Yesterday, a Met spokesman said: ‘In March 2021, the [force] determined it was not appropriate to begin a criminal investigation into allegations of unlawful activity in connection with a documentary broadcast in 1995 but should any significant new evidence emerge it would be assessed.

‘Following the publication of Lord Dyson’s report, we will assess its contents to ensure there is no significant new evidence.’

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