Martin Bashir has quit from his position as BBC religion editor, just as the broadcaster is preparing its special investigatory report on accusations that he used unethical ways to secure the 1995 Panorama interview with Princess Diana.

The BBC's deputy director of news, Jonathan Munro, announced the resignation in an email to staff on Friday. According to the email, shared by The Guardian, Bashir had informed the network about his decision a few weeks ago.

"Martin Bashir has stepped down from his position as the BBC's religion editor and is leaving the corporation. He let us know of his decision last month, just before being readmitted to hospital for another surgical procedure on his heart," Munro wrote.

Bashir had previously undergone a major surgery towards the end of last year, months after he recovered from COVID-19. However, the 58-year-old is still "facing some ongoing issues and has decided to focus on his health."

Just days after Bashir's resignation, BBC delayed the broadcast of a Panorama investigation into his interview with the Princess of Wales, which was expected to air on BBC One on Monday. The network cited a "significant duty of care issue" for the delay, and has not yet announced a new broadcast date for the programme.

Meanwhile, an independent inquiry into his alleged misconduct in securing the infamous interview has been completed and passed on to the BBC for publication. The investigation conducted by retired judge Lord Dyson was ordered after a report in the Sunday Times in October last year, in which the late royal's brother Charles Spencer claimed that Bashir had forged bank documents to show two of his staff were being paid to leak information about their family, in order to gain his trust and access to Diana.

"This was what led me to talk to Diana about such things. This, in turn, led to the meeting where I introduced Diana to Bashir, on September 19, 1995. This then led to the interview," Earl Spencer told People magazine at the time.

A criminal investigation was also launched in the matter earlier this year, but the Metropolitan Police decided in March that no further action would be taken against the journalist.

Princess Diana
20 November 1995:The Princess of Wales is interviewed by the BBC's Martin Bashir for the current affairs programme Panorama BBC/Getty Images