Miscellaneous: at back of a metaphorical drawer

Miscellaneous: at back of a metaphorical drawer

Followers of items appearing in world news over the last week will have seen that much coverage has been given to the fact that the famous or infamous 1995 television interview with Diana, Princess of Wales by Martin Bashir (‘there were three of us in this marriage’, and, they are ‘out to get me’) was achieved by deceit and lies. A full and detailed account of what happened, in so far as this can now be recovered, will be found at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-56680229 on the BBC News app. The story broke through an investigation carried out by a former senior judge, Lord Dyson; and this in turn was propelled into being by the very angry brother of Princess Diana, Charles Spencer, who had discovered he had been duped by forged bank statements shown him by Bashir and had passed on his surmises about this to his sister.

There are all manner of things that might be said about this, including  the ingrained corruption of much journalism and the sense of its members doing anything and everything needed to get a so-called scoop, and the activities masked as judiciousness which actually defended an organisation, the BBC, from just criticism. Of particular interest here is the role of the forged bank statements shown above. Bashir had these mocked up to persuade Spencer that people were being paid for surveillance by shadowy figures associated with ‘the Palace‘; with this in turn being passed on by Spencer, a trusted source, to his sister, who acted on the implicit message that something untoward was going on and her best defence was offence in the sense of talking to Bashir.

The thing is, how extraordinary that these have survived, that they have been placed in the equivalent of a drawer and nearly forgotten about over the 25 years that have passed since the TV interview took place. Also, a couple of years after the interview, there was an internal BBC investigation which basically papered over the cracks. This was literally ‘paper over’, as also extraordinarily the notes taken at the time by a key member of the Panorama programme involved also survive, in an attic among other papers left after this man’s death. These indicate that the assumption was that things were okay and no difficult questions should be asked, including about the forged bank statements. These were throughout known to have been forged, but somehow this was seen as permissible.

At basis, all this has come into sight because of the survival of crucial documents. These are the miscellaneous items that get forgotten about, they get put in drawers or in boxes and left in attics. Always attend to the stuff at the bottom of drawers, look for the small grubby boxes with bits of old stuff in them, is the key message for researchers.

Last updated:  21 May 2021