UNCONDITIONAL APOLOGY: BBC chief says Prince William criticism was “upsetting”
Image from The Royal Family
Tim Davie offered an unconditional apology to Prince William following the revelations about the BBC cover up of Martin Bashir’s behaviour.
BBC chief Tim Davie has said the Duke of Cambridge’s criticism in the wake of the Dyson report was “upsetting” and a “sad day” for the broadcaster.
The director-general, who took up the role in September 2020, said he had “engaged with the royal household directly” since the publication of the inquiry’s findings in May.
He said he felt “deep sympathy” for Diana’s sons, William and Harry, but added the BBC had offered an “unconditional apology” shortly after former judge Lord Dyson concluded the broadcaster had covered up “deceitful behaviour” used by Martin Bashir to secure his 1995 interview with their mother.
In his rebuke, William said the interview was a “major contribution” to making his parents’ relationship worse and “contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her”.
Appearing alongside BBC chairman Richard Sharp in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Mr Davie said: “It was upsetting, and it was a sad day.
“Primarily I felt deep sympathy for the sons of Princess Diana and as you know we have offered an unconditional apology and that was the primary thing in my mind.
“For us as an institution that cares so deeply and has an outstanding record of journalistic integrity, it was a very low moment for us.”
Asked if he has spoken to the princes since the publication of the Dyson report, he said: “I have engaged with the royal household directly, I do think it’s appropriate as to who was in meetings and exactly who I talked to, they were private and confidential meetings.
“So I think I will leave it to the royal household in terms of if they want to say anything on that, but I have talked directly to the royal household.”
Mr Davie was also questioned over why Mr Bashir had been rehired by the BBC in 2016 as religious affairs correspondent.
He said the interviewees were aware of “some of the controversies” around Mr Bashir but that they “did not see them as substantive enough to block a re-hiring or stop them”.
Citing the “glory of hindsight”, he added: “With what I know now having personally commissioned Lord Dyson to go at this, that hiring would never have been made, there’s no doubt about that.”
He rejected the allegation that there existed “BBC guidelines on faking documents”, saying: “I am not aware of any guidelines of that nature.”
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