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Justice Secretary Warns BBC That Apology Over Princess Diana Interview Is "Not The End Of It"

Robert Buckland has hit out at the "damning report" into the BBC's behaviour

3 min read

Robert Buckland has said the probe into the broadcaster's conduct raised "very serious questions" about its governance.

It comes after a damning inquiry into the BBC's handling of the 1995 Panorama interview concluded former journalist Martin Bashir used "deceitful behaviour" to secure the involvement of Princess Diana.

The report by Lord Dyson also claimed the BBC had failed to fully investigate Bashir's work, saying the corporation "fell short of high standards of integrity and transparency".

Both the BBC and Bashir have apologised, with the broadcaster sending written apologies to Prince Harry, Prince William and Prince Charles as well as Diana's brother, Earl Spencer.

But speaking on Friday, justice secretary Robert Buckland said the "damning report" could lead to further action to "improve governance" at the BBC.

"When you think about it, whether it was any family, the sort of behaviour that has been evidenced in this damning report raises some very serious questions indeed, sadly, for the BBC," he told Sky News.

"The report runs to 127 pages, it deals with some very important aspects of the conduct, not just of the journalists themselves but actually senior management at the BBC and decisions that were made at the time.

"Clearly it is going to need some careful consideration and the government will do that, soberly and calmly, to see what, if anything, needs to be done to improve governance at the BBC."

And Buckland said while ministers would examine the report before taking any action, that the public apologies would not be the "end of it".

"Freedom of expression, freedom of speech is clearly at the heart of the BBC and all broadcasters do, but there is a responsbility that they have to the rest of us, to families...and that needs to be taken very seriously indeed," he added.

"Clearly the report is damning, nobody can get away from that. 

"The first thing will be for the BBC to acknowledge that. They have apologised, which is a very important start but I don't think it is the end of it.

"It is why all of us looking at its governance, looking at the way it operates, it needs to do that to make sure this sort of behaviour doesn't happen again."

His warning came after the Duke of Cambridge issued a blistering statement accusing BBC leaders of "woeful incompetence" over their handling of the interview and for failing to stop the "deceitful way" the interview was secured.

Meanwhile, Prince Harry said the incident was part of a "culture of exploitation and unethical practices which ultimately" took his mother's life.

And in a call for a wider shake-up of the industry, the Duke of Sussex added: "To those who have taken some form of accountability, thank you for owning it. 

"That is the first step towards justice and truth. Yet what deeply concerns me is that practices like these – and even worse – are still widespread today. Then, and now, it’s bigger than one outlet, one network, or one publication. 

"Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed."

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