James Hewitt, the former lover of Diana, Princess of Wales, last night reignited his dispute with Britain's tabloid press – and the former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan in particular – by demanding that the Metropolitan Police reopen its investigation into the theft of love letters written by the Princess. He has instructed solicitor Charlotte Harris to pursue the matter.
The letters were stolen from a safe at Mr Hewitt's home in Bratton Clovelly, Devon, in 1998. They were sent between 1989-1991 at the height of the couple's affair
The letters were taken by Anna Ferretti, a former girlfriend of Mr Hewitt's, who tried to sell them to the Mirror for £150,000. The paper refused to pay this, but did pay £1,000 to secure them. They were then sent on to the Princess's private office at Kensington Palace. The paper claimed it was serving the public interest by making sure Mr Hewitt would be unable to sell them himself. Police interviewed Mr Morgan and Ms Ferretti at the time and decided to take no further action. Mr Hewitt told The IoS last night: "I am hoping now, after so much has come out about unscrupulous press methods, that there will be an appetite on the part of the police for reopening the case."
Mr Hewitt says, and lawyers confirm, that while the letters themselves are his property, the contents and copyright are not, so any opportunities for him to make money would have been limited in any event.
"I had no intention of doing anything with them," said Mr Hewitt. "Whether Piers Morgan put Anna up to it, I can't be certain, but I know that they turned up at the Mirror. The idea that I was trying to sell them... is nonsense. It is also ludicrous to pretend he was performing some... act of national service to return them to Kensington Palace."
Piers Morgan has been the subject of much media attention recently, prompting him to deny having ever been involved in phone hacking and other unlawful activity, but a further charge against Mr Morgan emerged yesterday with an admission from one of his own books. In The Insider, published in 2005, he wrote that he had once been told by James Hewitt that he had not been paid for his collaboration on a book. Mr Morgan replied: "Yes you did – I saw your bank statements", at which Mr Hewitt conceded defeat. Mr Morgan declined to comment last night.