Letter: Diana's story

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leader of 4 October was one of the few hypocrisy-free areas of the British press on that day. Whilst you congratulate Andrew Morton for his "outstanding" journalism, you take issue with the timing of the publication of the new edition of Diana: Her True Story. What you say is fair comment but I think you and your readers might wish to know how the decision to publish in early October was reached.

When I returned to my office after the death of Diana (I had been on holiday abroad when the accident happened) 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 revised 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 - not only for the reasons so helpfully put forward in your leader but also because we knew that, as a result of the tragedy in Paris, Diana would never 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.

So what to do? From a purely 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.

As you now know, we rejected this option and decided to tell the truth immediately, fully aware that Andrew would face a storm of criticism led by Buckingham Palace. There have been times in the last few days when we wondered if we had made the right decision but, ultimately, a writer and publisher have a responsibility to their readers - especially in a book as important as Diana: Her True Story. It would have been indecent to deceive them any longer. The elaborate cover story Andrew and I invented to protect Diana from her opponents became redundant with her death.

If I may use your platform to address another issue, I would like to correct one of the more important falsehoods making the rounds of the tabloids: the tapes containing the voice of Diana, Princess of Wales, have not been sold to an American tabloid, nor will they be used on a telephone "hotline".

MICHAEL O'MARA

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