Publisher defends selling new version of Morton's book on Diana

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The Independent Online
The publisher of Andrew Morton's book on Diana, Princess of Wales, has spoken for the first time of his decision to release a new version containing transcripts of taped interviews with her.

He tells Steve Boggan that it would have been dishonest to rush a reprint of the old version into the shops.

Michael O'Mara, the publisher of Diana: Her True Story - In Her Own Words, last night defended his decision to publish the book, claiming that simply reprinting the original would have amounted to a "hoax" on the public.

In a letter published in today's Independent, Mr O'Mara said he and Andrew Morton could have made millions of pounds by reprinting the original now and then publishing the new version - containing the transcripts of interviews with the Princess - at some point in the future, thereby making millions more.

Last night, in a separate interview, Mr O'Mara said that he would consider setting up a charity dedicated to the removal and banning of landmines if - as reported in some newspapers yesterday - the charities to which he planned to make a "substantial" donation decided not to accept his money.

Explaining why he decided to go ahead with the new version of the book, he wrote: "Purely from a financial point of view, the easiest option would have been to keep quiet and continue reprinting the original book. I can assure you that world-wide this would have resulted in sales of many millions. Then, at some point in the future, we would have been able to startle the world with the new version. This would again be a world-wide bestseller."

Recalling the events immediately after death of the Princess of Wales, he says: "I was faced with an avalanche of orders for the original, paperback edition of Andrew Morton's book. I gave the OK for an instant reprint but soon realised that a re- vised and updated edition was needed.

"By the time I saw Andrew the following day, one point was clear in our minds: sooner or later we had to come clean with the truth behind Diana: Her True Story ... because we knew that, as a result of the tragedy in Paris, Diana would ever be able to speak for herself again. No matter what the world thinks of Andrew Morton or myself, we were entrusted with a truth of enormous historical importance."

Speaking last night, Mr O'Mara said it would have amounted to a hoax to keep up the deception that information about Diana came from "friends" and not from her own lips. He also said that he was anxious to correct reports that the tapes of interviews with the Princess had been sold to an American tabloid. "They have not and they won't be," he said.

He said that he had been perturbed to read reports in some newspapers yesterday that charities associated with the removal and abolition of landmines had rejected his offer of a "substantial" donation.

"I have not spoken to these charities myself, so I don't know whether they really will not accept the money we are offering," he said. "But if they won't, then I'll have to set up my own landmine charity. There is a substantial amount in the pot and we hope to increase the figure in the future."