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Diana Panorama interview ‘an absolute horror story and it should never have happened’, ex- BBC chief tells MPs – live Diana Panorama interview ‘an absolute horror story and it should never have happened’, ex- BBC chief tells MPs – live
(32 minutes later)
Former director general Lord Birt tells digital, culture, media and sport committee that Martin Bashir ‘fooled the BBC executives’Former director general Lord Birt tells digital, culture, media and sport committee that Martin Bashir ‘fooled the BBC executives’
Lord Birt is refusing to apologise to the graphic designer who mocked up the bank statements that helped Bashir secure the interview and who report into the scandal exonerated. Tim Davie, the current director general, and the BBC chair Richard Sharp are now giving evidence. The former begins by denying he was reluctant to order a new review of Bashir’s actions.
He says an investigation on the scale that would be required would be a substantial undertaking and he was, therefore, justified in trying to gather some evidence first. He says he acted “deliberately”.
That concludes Birt’s evidence – there’s going to be brief adjournment before the final session.
Birt, summarising his view on Bashir, tells the MPs:
Birt says he “would like to understand” why Lord Hall and a fellow BBC executive Anne Sloman had not seen fit to pass on the findings of an investigation by Tim Gardam, the former head of weekly programmes.
The report says that Bashir did tell Gardam about the faking of the documents, but was told by the journalist that he had not shown them to anyone.
Birt says he suspected that his colleagues felt Bashir had offered sufficient justification for not being truthful about his practices.
Lord Birt is refusing to apologise to the graphic designer who mocked up the bank statements that helped Bashir secure the interview and who the report into the scandal exonerated.
Matt Wiessler was praised by Lord Dyson for acting “responsibly and appropriately” after he blew the whistle on Bashir when he realised how the fake statements had been used. Birt says he views Wiessler as a whistleblower and does not “have enough evidence” to explain why he was fired after speaking up.Matt Wiessler was praised by Lord Dyson for acting “responsibly and appropriately” after he blew the whistle on Bashir when he realised how the fake statements had been used. Birt says he views Wiessler as a whistleblower and does not “have enough evidence” to explain why he was fired after speaking up.
Asked if he had any concerns about Martin Bashir while he was at the BBC, Lord Birt says:Asked if he had any concerns about Martin Bashir while he was at the BBC, Lord Birt says:
Birt is asked by the Tory MP Steve Brine whether he accepts the episode helped worsen Diana’s mental state and, as a result, “sparked a train of events which less than two years later would see the events in that underpass in Paris”. He says:Birt is asked by the Tory MP Steve Brine whether he accepts the episode helped worsen Diana’s mental state and, as a result, “sparked a train of events which less than two years later would see the events in that underpass in Paris”. He says:
Lord Birt tells the MPs that Bashir’s deception was “on a very, very significant scale”. He adds:Lord Birt tells the MPs that Bashir’s deception was “on a very, very significant scale”. He adds:
He describes an elaborate two-pronged campaign of deception set out by Bashir that was both “cunning and callous”. He labels Bashir’s approach:He describes an elaborate two-pronged campaign of deception set out by Bashir that was both “cunning and callous”. He labels Bashir’s approach:
Lord Birt calls Bashir a “serial liar on an industrial scale”.Lord Birt calls Bashir a “serial liar on an industrial scale”.
Lord Birt, who was director general at the time the interview was originally broadcast, is now giving evidence. He is asked at what point the BBC management became aware of the allegations. He says:Lord Birt, who was director general at the time the interview was originally broadcast, is now giving evidence. He is asked at what point the BBC management became aware of the allegations. He says:
Here’s a little more detail on Hall’s comments on the rehiring of Bashir. Asked if it was likely that the journalists who handled it did not know about the scandal surrounding him, Hall said:Here’s a little more detail on Hall’s comments on the rehiring of Bashir. Asked if it was likely that the journalists who handled it did not know about the scandal surrounding him, Hall said:
As we reported earlier, he then added:As we reported earlier, he then added:
That’s the conclusion of Lord Hall’s evidence. Lord John Birt, a fellow former director general of the BBC, is due next in a couple of minutes.That’s the conclusion of Lord Hall’s evidence. Lord John Birt, a fellow former director general of the BBC, is due next in a couple of minutes.
Nicholson closes by accusing Hall of presiding over a “cover-up”. The former BBC director general, taking issue with this, asks to comment. He tells the MPs:Nicholson closes by accusing Hall of presiding over a “cover-up”. The former BBC director general, taking issue with this, asks to comment. He tells the MPs:
The SNP’s John Nicholson tells Hall he believes it “implausible” he was not involved in the rehiring of Bashir as religious affairs correspondent in 2016 – as the investigation by the BBC executive Ken MacQuarrie has found.The SNP’s John Nicholson tells Hall he believes it “implausible” he was not involved in the rehiring of Bashir as religious affairs correspondent in 2016 – as the investigation by the BBC executive Ken MacQuarrie has found.
Nicholson calls that report a “whitewash”. Hall retorts:Nicholson calls that report a “whitewash”. Hall retorts:
Hall is asked about comments made by Prince William, who said his mother was “failed, not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC, who looked the other way, rather than asking the tough questions”. He says:Hall is asked about comments made by Prince William, who said his mother was “failed, not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC, who looked the other way, rather than asking the tough questions”. He says:
Asked if he has expressed this to William, he said:Asked if he has expressed this to William, he said: