BBC boss Tim Davie has apologised to Princess Diana's brother Earl Spencer after the broadcaster 'used fake bank statements to win her trust' ahead of the famous Panorama interview 25 years ago.
The new director-general of the BBC reportedly wrote to Earl Spencer last week to make the apology but declined to open an investigation into interviewer Martin Bashir's conduct.
According to the Sunday Times, Spencer told Davie that he has detailed records of all his interactions with Bashir which suggest the journalist used fantastical stories and fake bank statements to secure the interview with Diana.
Nearly 23 million tuned in to witness the Princess of Wales tell Bashir, 'There were three people in the marriage,' a reference to Camilla Parker Bowles (pictured: the 1995 Panorama interview)
Nearly 23 million tuned in to witness the Princess of Wales tell Bashir, 'There were three people in the marriage,' a reference to Camilla Parker Bowles.
Bashir, then 32, is further accused of preying on the princess's fears that she was being spied on by MI5 to secure the meeting.
Sources told the Sunday Times that Spencer's records include 'the most unbelievable stuff', such as faxes from Bashir in which he makes 'wild allegations' about Prince Charles and proof that Bashir claimed MI6 tapped the princess's telephone.
In 1996, the BBC carried out an internal review of Bashir's behaviour which judged that the fake bank statements – forged by a BBC graphics designer – had not helped to gain the interview.
But the fake dossiers showed that a former employee of Spencer's had been selling information about the family.
Bashir claimed that they had been given to him by a source in the intelligence community, The Sunday Times reported.
Earl Spencer attends an event at the National Portrait Gallery in February 2016
Bashir first contacted the earl, who was protective of his sister, three months before the interview, a source close to the Spencer family told the paper.
The source said Bashir told Spencer that he was looking into media ethics.
Spencer went on to arrange a meeting between himself, his sister and Bashir at a friend's apartment in London in September 1995.
Spencer, who kept notes of the discussion, warned his sister against dealings with Bashir over the sensational allegations he was making, the source told The Sunday Times.
The family friend described Bashir as 'awful' and said that Spencer apologised to Diana afterwards.
The source added that the bank statements were crucial to Bashir's meeting Diana.
The BBC's own investigation which concluded on April 13, 1996, said: 'The BBC has been able, independently, to verify that these documents were put to no use which had any bearing, direct or indirect, on the Panorama interview with the Princess of Wales.'
The review was overseen in part by Tony Hall, then head of news and current affairs, who retired as director-general in August.
Bashir first contacted Spencer's secretary in August