The theory that Martin Bashir was rehired by the BBC to cover up events surrounding his Panorama interview with Princess Diana is “completely unfounded”, a review has found.

An investigation has concluded that no one involved in Mr Bashir‘s recruitment in 2016 had knowledge of all of the matters contained in the Lord Dyson report released earlier this year, which criticised the methods used by the journalist to secure his bombshell 1995 interview.

The Dyson report had also suggested the BBC had failed to uphold “governance, accountability and scrutiny”.

Mr Bashir returned to the broadcaster to become its religious affairs correspondent in 2016, some two decades after the Panorama episode that made him a household name in journalism and 17 years after he originally left for ITV. He quit citing health issues ahead of the Dyson report being published.

The review by Ken MacQuarrie stated: “I have found no evidence that Martin Bashir was re-hired to contain and/or cover up the events surrounding the 1995 Panorama programme. In my view, that theory is entirely unfounded.”

In response, BBC Director-General Tim Davie said: “While the report finds processes were largely followed at the time, it is clear we need to reflect on the findings to ensure consistent best practice is applied in our recruitment.

“Finally, it is without doubt that had the organisation been aware of what is now publicly known because of the Dyson Report Martin Bashir would have never been reappointed.”

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In response to the Dyson report, Mr Bashir said he did not believe he harmed Diana “in any way” and stopped short of admitting that he duped the princess into the interview.

He told The Sunday Times in May: “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… My family and I loved her.

“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.”

Prince William has said the BBC’s failures surrounding the interview with his mother “contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation” – and the episode should never be broadcast again.

Prince Harry criticised the media following the publication of the Dyson report, saying “practices like these – and even worse – are still widespread today”.

He continued: “Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed.”

Featuring intimate details of Charles and Diana’s failed marriage and her life inside the Royal Family, Mr Bashir’s interview was watched by 23 million people.

Allegations about counterfeit bank statements shown to Diana’s brother Earl Spencer – suggesting palace officials were taking money to spy on her – first surfaced not long after the interview aired. However, a BBC inquiry the following year cleared Bashir of any wrongdoing.

The 2021 Lord Dyson report called the original inquiry “woefully ineffective”, and Earl Spencer said he would never have introduced Bashir to his sister had he not been shown faked documents.