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There is no evidence journalist Martin Bashir was rehired by the BBC to cover up the circumstances around his Diana interview, a BBC inquiry has found.

The review was set up to look at why Bashir became a correspondent in 2016 when questions already surrounded him.

Monday's report said that if the people involved in his hiring had known everything they do now, Bashir "would have never been reappointed".

It also said bosses who rehired Bashir were told he had faked documents.

But because Princess Diana had provided a handwritten letter to say she had not been misled, Jonathan Munro – the then head of newsgathering, now deputy director of news – considered that the allegations were "spent".

The report said James Harding, the then head of news who also rehired Bashir, should have spoken to Lord Tony Hall about the matter, who was director general at the time.

BBC director general Tim Davie said the corporation would reflect on the findings.

Julian Knight, the MP who chairs the Commons culture committee, said it was concerned by the report, asking: "Where was the due diligence?"

"Senior members of the BBC knew [at the time of rehire] that Bashir had lied about the use of faked bank statements to gain access to Princess Diana," Mr Knight said.

  • The princess, the reporter and the BBC
  • Key dates in the Martin Bashir interview controversy
  • What is the Diana interview row all about?
  • BBC criticised over 'deceitful' Diana interview

Bashir, 58, is one of the most well-known journalists in the UK and his interview with Princess Diana for Panorama was a huge scoop for the BBC.

But last month's damning Dyson Report found Bashir acted in a "deceitful" way and faked documents to obtain access to Diana – and described Bashir as "unreliable", "devious" and "dishonest".

Bashir was at the BBC until 1998, when he left to join ITV. He went onto work for various US television networks, also making headlines for his 2003 interview with the pop star Michael Jackson.

In September 2016, he returned to the BBC as religious affairs correspondent and was subsequently made religion editor in 2018. He resigned from that job in May, citing health reasons.

The new review – by senior BBC manager Ken MacQuarrie and published on Monday – was set up to find out why Bashir was rehired, when questions had already been asked about his conduct.

The review found:

  • The idea that Bashir was rehired to contain and/or cover up the events surrounding the 1995 Panorama programme was "entirely unfounded"
  • None of the individuals involved in Bashir's hiring had knowledge of all of the matters contained in the Dyson report
  • But Jonathan Munro – one of the people involved in the rehiring – had some recollection about the controversy surrounding the Panorama interview and took steps to find out more. He was told that Bashir had faked documents, but that Diana had provided a handwritten letter to say that she had not been misled, and he considered the matter "spent"
  • James Harding, the then-director of news when Bashir was rehired and who interviewed him, was also made aware of the events surrounding the Panorama interview (by Mr Munro) – but did not make any further, independent efforts to carry out due diligence on Bashir
  • The report found it would have not been reasonable to expect Mr Munro or Mr Harding to reinvestigate the events – but "it would have been appropriate" for Mr Harding to speak about it with Lord Hall, the then BBC director general, to ensure he was properly informed
  • Lord Hall knew the role was being recruited but did not play a part in the decision to rehire Bashir

The report also found that previous controversies involving Bashir "were not given sufficient regard by James Harding".

These controversies include remarks Bashir made about former US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, which led to him leaving his his job as a daytime chat host on US TV network MSNBC in 2013.

Five years earlier, while working for another US network, he was suspended and apologised for making lewd comments about Asian women.

BBCDiana's BBC interview

  • Broadcast on BBC One on 20 November 1995, the interview was watched by more than 20m people

  • At the time Princess Diana had been separated from Prince Charles for three years and they divorced the following year

  • She famously told Bashir there were "three of us" in the marriage, referring to Camilla Parker Bowles

Source: BBC

In a statement, BBC director general Mr Davie pointed out that the report found the recruitment process "was targeted to find the right person for the role and it was conducted in good faith".

"While the report finds processes were largely followed at the time, it is clear we need to reflect on the findings to ensure consistent best practice is applied in our recruitment," he said.

"Finally, it is without doubt that had the organisation been aware of what is now publicly known because of the Dyson report Martin Bashir would have never been reappointed."

The chair of the Commons culture committee, Mr Knight, said: "That the BBC considered rehiring Martin Bashir when there were high level doubts over his integrity stretches incredulity to breaking point.

"By this point, as the Dyson report concluded, senior members of the BBC knew that Bashir had lied about the use of faked bank statements to gain access to Princess Diana.

"If the BBC considered him 'unanimously' the best candidate, where was the due diligence that should have prevented the corporation from rehiring a former member of staff who had not told a very important truth? Where were senior level discussions?"

The committee will hear evidence from Mr Davie, Lord Hall, and Lord Birt – another ex-BBC director general – on Tuesday.

In a statement last month, Bashir apologised for mocking up the documents, which he said was a "stupid thing to do" and regretted it.

But he said he remained "immensely proud" of the interview and that the documents "had no bearing whatsoever" on Princess Diana's decision to do the interview.

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