BBC Apologizes image

By Casey Bukro

Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists

Twenty-five years later, the British Broadcasting Corporation apologizes that one of its reporters, Martin Bashir, used fake bank statements to get a sensational interview with Princess Diana.

“It was a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret,” said Bashir, who stepped down from BBC last week. He admitted the bogus bank statements used to gain the interview when he was a young reporter eager to make a name for himself were “mocked up.” BBC News called the interview “deceitful.”

“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,” said Tim Davie, BBC’s current director-general. “While the BBC cannot turn back the block after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology.”

BBC has an ethics guide which says in part, “At the heart of ethics is a concern about something and someone other than ourselves and our own desires and self-interest.”

The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics urges journalists to “abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.”


The Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists was founded in 2001 by the Chicago Headline Club (Chicago professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists) and Loyola University Chicago Center for Ethics and Social Justice. It partnered with the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2013. It is a free service.

Professional journalists are invited to contact the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists for guidance on ethics. Call 866-DILEMMA or

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