Ex-Panorama producer says BBC should make it easier for whistleblowers

·3-min read

Former Panorama producer Mark Killick said the BBC’s response to Martin Bashir’s illicitly obtained interview with Diana, Princess of Wales opened the door to further scandals at the corporation.

Mr Killick worked on the investigative journalism series at the time of the 1995 interview and first alerted the BBC to the existence of the forged bank statements used to entice Diana.

After blowing the whistle, Mr Killick said he was sacked from the programme due to “disloyalty” and then smeared by the broadcaster.

Speaking after Lord Dyson’s damning report into the interview was published, he said what happened to him sent a message to other journalists at the BBC and prevented them speaking out.

He told the PA news agency: “When the BBC dismissed us, run a smear campaign and then the cover up, lots and lots of people in the BBC at the time knew that.

“And it sent a message to the whole of the BBC staff – don’t whistleblow if there’s a problem with the BBC. If you do you could lose your job.”

While Mr Killick did not specify a subsequent scandal at the BBC, the corporation was heavily criticised for its handling of historic allegations against Jimmy Savile.

Mr Killick added: “If you look at the subsequent scandals the BBC had, the continuing thread is ‘surely people would have known?’. And there’s a reason why people didn’t say, it’s because if they did say, they were in danger of losing their job.”

The producer said it was imperative Tim Davie, the BBC’s director-general, made it clear to the corporation’s staff they will be supported if they blow the whistle and can “speak truth to power without being scared of losing their job”.

He also demanded the broadcaster issue specific apologies to those harmed by the Bashir scandal.

“So many people were hurt,” he said. “On the Diana side of the line there’s Diana’s employees, there’s the people who are named in the bank statements, there’s Earl Spencer, there’s Diana herself. And then on the BBC side of the line there’s the people who lost their jobs, that were smeared.”

Lord Dyson – Bashir report
The BBC has apologised to the royal family for how it obtained its 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales (BBC/PA)

Responding to the statement, Mr Davie said: “While today’s BBC has significantly better processes and procedures, those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview being secured in this way. The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew.

“While the BBC cannot turn back the clock after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology. The BBC offers that today.”

The broadcaster has published a document highlighting the steps it has taken since 1995 to improve the conduct of its employees, protect whistleblowers and overhaul its complaints process.

The BBC also said it would not keep the awards it won for Bashir’s interview with Diana.