Ex-BBC boss faults Bashir over Diana interview
June 16 2021 01:19 AM
(File photo) British journalist Martin Bashir. (AFP)
(File photo) British journalist Martin Bashir. (AFP)

AFP/ London

A former head of the BBC yesterday said that disgraced Princess Diana interviewer Martin Bashir “abused” his trust and would never have been re-employed had his unethical methods been known.
A report last month found Bashir used fake bank statements to secure his sensational 1995 interview and that a subsequent BBC investigation clearing him of wrongdoing was “woefully inadequate”.
A separate internal BBC review concluded yesterday that Bashir’s appointment as religious affairs correspondent in 2016 was fair, and that the theory it was used as a cover-up was “entirely unfounded”.
Tony Hall  - who co-led the BBC’s first inquiry into Bashir in 1996 and was its director-general when Bashir was rehired - was grilled about the corporation’s work by UK lawmakers.
He said the initial internal probe in 1996 saw Bashir reduced to tears during a 90-minute interrogation.
“I gave him (Bashir) a second chance and that trust was abused and misplaced,” Hall told a parliamentary committee.
“He was contrite, inexperienced and out of his depth and that is why, rather than sack him, we gave him a second chance.”
But Hall denied responsibility for re-employing Bashir in 2016, despite his previous behaviour and controversies arising from his work for US networks, claiming he “devolved” this decision-making to colleagues.
“I was running the organisation of 20,000-plus people. I cannot be across every detail,” he said.
“If we knew then what we now know, then of course he would not have been rehired.
“My whole time has been about integrity and getting the truth.”

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