Police rule out criminal probe into Martin Bashir's Diana interview

Martin Bashir will face ‘no further action’ after Met Police probe into claims he used ‘faked documents’ to secure controversial Princess Diana Panorama interview

  • Complaint had been lodged with Met Police by a former security adviser
  • But today the force said it would not be opening a criminal investigation 
  • An independent probe is underway into the bombshell 1995 Panorama interview 

Police today ruled out a criminal investigation into BBC journalist Martin Bashir’s Princess Diana interview.

Pressure had been mounting on the Metropolitan Police to launch its own probe into background of the bombshell 1995 Panorama chat.

It was 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.

But Met Commander Alex Murray said today: ‘In recent months the Metropolitan Police Service received correspondence alleging unlawful activity in connection with a documentary broadcast in 1995. This was carefully assessed by specialist detectives.

‘They obtained legal advice from Metropolitan Police lawyers, independent counsel and from the Crown Prosecution Service.

‘Following this detailed assessment and in view of the advice we received, we have determined that it is not appropriate to begin a criminal investigation into these allegations. No further action will be taken.

‘In this matter, as in any other, should any significant new evidence come to light we will assess it.’

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)

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

Lord Dyson, a former Master of the Rolls and Head of the Court of Appeal, is already leading an independent investigation into the circumstances around the interview.

The Met Police had received a complaint by Earl Spencer’s former security chief Alan Waller over the alleged faking of his bank statements. 

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. 

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

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’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. 

‘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’. 

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

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.

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 has previously 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 year it emerged the BBC’s inquiry was 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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