Martin Bashir says he never intended to harm Princess Diana—and does not believe he did, in comments made after an internal BBC investigation showed that he acted deceitfully to secure his now-famous 1995 BBC Panorama interview with the late royal.
The 58-year-old journalist, who recently left the network due to illness, made his comments to The Times newspaper on Saturday, May 22, two days after he and the BBC both issued statements of apology following the publishing of the findings of the probe, which was launched last fall at the request of Diana's brother Earl Charles Spencer.
"I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don't believe we did," Martin told The Times. "Everything we did in terms of the interview was as she wanted, from when she wanted to alert the palace, to when it was broadcast, to its contents."
He added, "My family and I loved her." Martin also said, when asked if he is able to forgive himself, "That's a really difficult question because it was a serious error. I hope that people will allow me the opportunity to show that I am properly repentant of what happened."
In the BBC interview, Diana, who died two years after its airing, opened up for the first time about her failed marriage to Prince William and Prince Harry's father, Prince Charles. She shocked viewers, as well as the royal family, when she broke her silence about their separation and rumors of infidelity.
"There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded," the Princess of Wales said, referring to Charles' relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, his now-second wife.
The investigation found that Martin used forged bank statements—purporting to show payments in the account of the former head of security of Diana's brother, as well as to those of two former members of the royal household—in order to coax the princess' sibling into introducing the journalist to the princess.
"Obviously I regret it, it was wrong," Martin told The Times. "But it had no bearing on anything. It had no bearing on [Diana], it had no bearing on the interview."
He added that despite what was stated in the inquiry report, the forged bank statements were made after he had already developed a relationship with Diana, not before. The journalist said he "deeply regrets" showing them to her brother and added that he never showed them to the princess herself.
After the findings were made public, William and Harry issued scathing statements against the BBC and the press in general.
The former royal said, "It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC's failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her. But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived."
Martin disputed the accusation. "I don't feel I can be held responsible for many of the other things that were going on in her life, and the complex issues surrounding those decisions," he said. "The suggestion I am singularly responsible I think is unreasonable and unfair."