24 May 2021

BBC chairman confirms investigation into rehiring of Martin Bashir

24 May 2021

BBC chairman Richard Sharp has admitted there were “clear failures” at the broadcaster and confirmed there will be an investigation into why Martin Bashir was rehired in 2016.

His comments come after the BBC board announced a review into the effectiveness of the corporation’s editorial policies and governance in light of Lord Dyson’s report into journalist Bashir’s 1995 Panorama interview with Diana Princess of Wales.

The former banker, who took over the role earlier this year, criticised the methods Bashir used to secure the interview, which included faking bank statements, and suggested the BBC had failed to uphold “governance, accountability and scrutiny”.

Former BBC News religion editor Martin Bashir (PA Wire)

He told World At One on BBC Radio 4: “There’s no doubt, and the Dyson report reveals this, that the practices adopted in advance of the interview were entirely unacceptable in any ethical news journalism and broadcasting entity and that was a clear failure.

“Subsequently, it’s also clear that the approach to reviewing the programme and the practices failed and that’s a separate failure which was identified in the prince’s (Duke of Cambridge) statement to do with one of governance, accountability and scrutiny.”

Mr Sharp said Tim Davie, who took over as director-general from Lord Hall last year, was “looking into the hiring process as the executive”.

He added: “I trust the executive to handle the sensitivity of these processes when it comes to the nuance between somebody resigning and somebody being fired, where we have different legal, quite right, appropriate legal protections.

The Duke of Cambridge makes a statement following the publication of Lord Dyson’s investigation (PA Wire)

“I expect them to handle it in a way that’s best for the organisation.

“I take comfort from the fact that Martin Bashir is no longer here. I don’t take comfort yet from understanding why he was rehired. We will find that out.”

Mr Sharp, former chairman of principal investment in Europe at financial services giant Goldman Sachs, was also challenged over why senior BBC figures had not made public media appearances any earlier.

He said: “I asked myself that question because I know the people of the BBC by definition operate in the media world and what they did have was Tim Davie on the television immediately on Thursday.

“It may seem like a long few days but it is also worth us reflecting and deliberating on the reactions and making sure that our response is appropriate and comprehensive to satisfy those concerns.”

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