THE revelation last week that BBC journalist Martin Bashir had used ‘deceitful behaviour’ to secure the iconic 1995 interview with Princess Diana was a low blow to the broadcasting corporation.
A report, by former judge Lord Dyson, found that Bashir seriously breached broadcaster’s rules by commissioning faked documents, which he showed to Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer to obtain the interview.
For decades the BBC has been seen as the epitome of truth in journalism and was held up around the world as a reliable and trustworthy news authenticator.
And while the interview no doubt caused huge damage to the royal family, and may have accelerated the demise of Diana’s marriage, there has also been huge collateral damage to journalism. In an era of fake news, and often reckless social media sites, traditional news consumers felt ‘the BBC’ could be relied upon to get to the nub of the story, and it would be the truth.
What’s even more worrying is that in 1996, an internal BBC investigation cleared Bashir of any wrongdoing.
This week the BBC reported on its own website that it had been badly damaged by the affair. And in a chilling comment, that will strike fear in any mainstream journalist, the UK’s home secretary Priti Patel said: ‘This is the Netflix generation. How relevant is the BBC?’ If a once-impeccable journalistic behemoth like the BBC is now deemed ‘irrelevant’ then we are heading down a very dangerous road indeed.