Former BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall has said Martin Bashir would not have been rehired by the broadcaster if the manner in which he secured his Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales had been known about at the time.
Bashir was allowed to return to the BBC in 2016 as religious affairs correspondent and subsequently became religion editor in 2018.
Appearing before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Lord Hall said he had not wanted to second-guess those in charge of the hiring process.
Committee chairman Julian Knight said it was “utterly extraordinary” that the BBC would rehire Bashir and asked how it came to be that a “known liar” was brought back to the corporation.
Lord Hall said: “If we knew than what we know now, of course he wouldn’t have been rehired.”
Tory MP nMr Knight responded: “A cynic would suggest the process was entirely concocted so that the resolution at the end of the day was that Mr Bashir would get this job.”
A recent report by Lord Dyson criticised the methods the journalist used to secure his bombshell interview in 1995, including using fake bank statements.
Lord Hall, who was director-general of the BBC from April 2013 to August 2020 and led a 1996 internal inquiry into Bashir, started the session by acknowledging “how hard this has been for the royal family, for the two princes, and I’m sorry for the hurt caused”.
He added: “At core here, I trusted a journalist, I gave him a second chance, and that trust was abused and was misplaced.
“I don’t think the words ‘honest and honourable’, 25 years on, look appropriate at all.”