Gym owner defends Princess pictures: Bryce Taylor says 98 per cent of people would also have tried his 'legal scam' to make money

Wednesday 17 November 1993 01:02 GMT

THE GYMNASIUM owner who took photographs of the Princess of Wales during a work-out yesterday defended his actions.

'If I told you I had an absolutely legal scam, which didn't hurt anyone and which would make you a million pounds, wouldn't you say 'yes'?' Bryce Taylor, owner of the LA Fitness Centre in Isleworth, west London, said. 'Given the same opportunity, 98 per cent of people would do what I did,' he told the London Evening Standard.

In another interview on television last night, he apologised if the Princess had been distressed by the photographs, but added: 'The following day she didn't look particularly distressed.'

Mr Taylor was asked about a letter he wrote to the Princess inviting her to use LA Fitness. In it, he had assured her: 'We will do everything we can to respect your privacy.' His legal team was examining whether that constituted a legal contract. He said: 'It's a moot point.'

Mr Taylor - who has since resigned as chairman of the pounds 500-a- year club - earlier said that the Princess had wanted to be seen. 'What was Princess Diana doing there in the first place if she didn't want to be seen? How many women do you know who work out in full make-up? How many do you know who supposedly work out hard and then don't sweat?

'I suggest you ask some of the other members of about her attitude in the gym and I'd like to set the record straight about her visits. She didn't sneak in and out early in the morning or late at night. The Princess came to the gym more than 100 times, sometimes during peak periods when she had to queue for equipment.'

The photographs of the Princess working out on a leg-press machine appeared in the Sunday Mirror and Daily Mirror and were taken by Mr Taylor with a concealed camera. Solicitors for the Princess have issued High Court writs against Mr Taylor, Mirror Group Newspapers, the editors of the Sunday Mirror and Daily Mirror, and the gym.

Mr Taylor admitted his actions had been 'sneaky, surreptitious and pre-planned'. But, he said: 'High-ranking lawyers gave me advice and information about my plan. They told me there was no law of privacy in the UK and therefore nothing to break.'

He had hoped to make upwards of 'a few hundred thousand pounds' from the photographs, and said his lawyers were fighting an order to disclose how much money he had earnt. It would be going into a special account, he said, but 'no money has arrived into that account as of today'.

Any money that Mr Taylor made would be frozen until the end of litigation, lawyers for the Princess said last night. They added that they had now seen all the pictures taken at the gym. Anthony Julius, of the Princess's lawyers Mishcon de Reya, said: 'He will not receive a penny until the outcome of the litigation.'

In another interview yesterday, on Television New Zealand, Mr Taylor rejected suggestions the Princess had secretly co-operated with the pictures in an attempt to quash rumours about bulimia. He said took the photographs partly because of a dare from his friends and partly because he had got into financial trouble. 'We had a lot of bank borrowing, and personally I was up to my eyeballs and beyond.'

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