Prince William welcomes inquiry into Princess Diana's interview with Martin Bashir

Princess of Wales Diana waves to a crowd in Melbourne on Jan 27, 1988.
Princess of Wales Diana waves to a crowd in Melbourne on Jan 27, 1988.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain's Prince William has welcomed a new investigation into how the BBC secured a famous 1995 interview with his mother Princess Diana after accusations that she had been tricked into taking part.

The new inquiry led by a former Supreme Court justice will focus on how the broadcaster obtained the interview and whether executives covered up any wrongdoing.

"The independent investigation is a step in the right direction," Prince William said in a statement.

"It should help establish the truth behind the actions that led to the Panorama interview and subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time."

During Princess Diana's interview with journalist Martin Bashir, watched by more than 20 million viewers in Britain, she shocked the nation by admitting to an affair and giving intimate details of her failed marriage to heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles.

She famously said "there were three people" in her marriage - her, Charles and his long-time lover Camilla Parker-Bowles.

This month, her brother Charles Spencer said the BBC had failed to apologise for what he said were forged documents and "other deceit" which led him to introduce Princess Diana to Mr Bashir.

The BBC's director-general Tim Davie said the broadcaster was determined to get to the truth about Earl Spencer's claims.

The Earl says Mr Bashir made a series of allegations to him and his sister, such as Princess Diana was being bugged by the security services and that two senior aides were being paid to provide information about her. He says Mr Bashir provided fake bank statements to back up the claim.

Others involved in making the programme have also come forward to say the BBC had covered up wrongdoing.

Mr Bashir has made no public comment to the media and the BBC says the journalist, who gained global renown from the Princess Diana interview and is the corporation's religious affairs correspondent, is on sick leave, recovering from heart surgery and Covid-19.

The BBC said its investigation would examine five questions such as what steps the BBC and Mr Bashir took to obtain the interview, "including the mocked-up bank statements purporting to show payments to a former employee of Earl Spencer, the purported payments to members of the royal households and the other matters recently raised by Earl Spencer."