The inquiry into allegations that Princess Diana was tricked into her 1995 Panorama interview faces a “delay of months”, as pressure mounts on Scotland Yard to launch a criminal investigation.
Lord Dyson, a former Master of the Rolls and Head of the Court of Appeal, is understood to have told colleagues he intends to “press on” with his independent investigation, despite the Met Police examining claims of criminality at the BBC.
Sources have revealed the report from the judge’s probe is now likely to face considerable delays as it runs the risk of prejudicing any police inquiry and subsequent trial.
BBC reporter Martin Bashir is accused of forging bank statements to claim palace courtiers and a former head of security for Earl Spencer, Diana’s brother, were receiving cash for information on the Princess of Wales.
Bashir gained the trust of Charles Spencer before being introduced to Diana and convincing her to be interviewed for the bombshell programme that sent shockwaves through the royal family and led to her subsequent divorce from Prince Charles.
Alan Waller, who worked for Earl Spencer in the 90s, has officially complained to police regarding “very serious concerns” of a conspiracy “to create an instrument of fraud”.
Sources close to the investigation have revealed Lord Dyson and his team are preparing for a “delay of months” due to a complaint made to Scotland Yard concerning Bashir’s methods in securing his sensational interview.
Lord Dyson has appointed Fieldfisher LLP as solicitors to the independent investigation. Fieldfisher’s has a track record of advising those conducting major public inquiries, and has acted as solicitors to the inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed, the 7/7 London bombings inquests, the Litvinenko inquiry, and the Baha Mousa Inquiry.
The source added: “Everyone is prepared for a delay of months to the investigation and any chance of publishing a report.
“The issue is clearly the danger of prejudicing a live criminal investigation if Scotland Yard decides to take on the case.”
Mr Waller’s barrister Anton van Dellen told police the faked bank statements had caused “significant reputational and financial loss”.
At the time the probe was announced in November, Lord Dyson said: “This is an important investigation which I will start straight away. I will ensure it is both thorough and fair.”
The distinguished judge has already gathered a list of at least a dozen names he wants to cooperate with his independent probe.
It is expected to cost in excess of £1.5million even before any delays are taken into account.
They include former Panorama reporter Bashir; former BBC director-general Lord Hall who was a former head of news at the BBC; Tim Gardam, the-then head of weekly programmes and Matthew Weissler, the former BBC graphic designer.
Mr Wiessler claims he was made a scapegoat after Bashir allegedly tricked him into creating false bank statements purporting to be palace staff receiving cash payments from media organisations.
Earl Spencer, the princess’s brother, will also be asked to hand over evidence he has collected which he claims shows how she was allegedly manipulated into agreeing to be interviewed.
The Earl has told friends he could also push for a criminal investigation after describing Lord Dyson’s probe as a “toothless operation”.
Mr. Waller could also be integral to Lord Dyson’s probe regardless of the Met Police’s decision to investigate.
Tim Davie, director-general of the BBC, said that the independent investigation would “get to the truth” of allegations that Bashir forged documents and lied to win the trust of the princess and her family.
Bashir, who remains in his post as Religious Affairs editor for the BBC is currently signed off work while he recovers from quadruple heart bypass surgery and complications from having contracted Covid-19 last year.
The BBC has said in a previous statement: “The BBC has made clear it will investigate the issues raised and that this will be independent.
“We will set out the terms of reference in due course. We will do everything possible to get to the bottom of this.”