The BBC has agreed to pay “substantial damages” to William and Harry’s former nanny over “false and malicious” allegations used to obtain Martin Bashir’s 1995 Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.
Alexandra Pettifer, better known as Tiggy Legge-Bourke, appeared at the High Court in London for a public apology from the broadcaster over “fabricated” allegations she had had an affair with the Prince of Wales while working as Charles’ personal assistant in 1995.
Her solicitor Louise Prince told the court that the allegations caused “serious personal consequences for all concerned”.
As well as the allegation of the affair, the court was told Ms Legge-Bourke was falsely accused of becoming pregnant with Charles’ baby and having an abortion.
Ms Prince said Ms Legge-Bourke had not known the source of the allegations over the last 25 years, but that it was now likely the “false and malicious allegations arose as a result and in the context of BBC Panorama’s efforts to procure an exclusive interview with Diana, Princess of Wales”.
The court heard the Dyson Investigation, commissioned by the broadcaster, had “shed some light” on how the interview had been secured.
The solicitor said the “totally unfounded” allegations “appeared to exploit some prior false speculation in the media” about Ms Legge-Bourke and Charles.
“After Diana, Princess of Wales, became aware of the allegations in late 1995, she became upset with the claimant without apparent justification,” she added.
Ms Prince said Ms Legge-Bourke “holds the BBC liable for the serious impact the false and malicious allegations have had”.
She added: “Had the BBC not fallen short, the claimant and her family could have been spared 25 years of lies, suspicion and upset.”
BBC director-general Tim Davie apologised to Ms Legge-Bourke for the “deceitful” tactics used to secure the interview.
He said: “Following publication of the Dyson Report last year we have been working with those who suffered as a result of the deceitful tactics used by the BBC in pursuit of its interview with Diana, Princess of Wales for the Panorama programme in 1995, including the matters that were mentioned in court today in respect of Miss Tiggy Legge-Bourke, now Mrs Alexandra Pettifer.
“The BBC has agreed to pay substantial damages to Mrs Pettifer and I would like to take this opportunity to apologise publicly to her, to the Prince of Wales, and to the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, for the way in which Princess Diana was deceived and the subsequent impact on all their lives.
“It is a matter of great regret that the BBC did not get to the facts in the immediate aftermath of the programme when there were warning signs that the interview might have been obtained improperly. Instead, as the Duke of Cambridge himself put it, the BBC failed to ask the tough questions.
“Had we done our job properly Princess Diana would have known the truth during her lifetime. We let her, the royal family and our audiences down.
“Now we know about the shocking way that the interview was obtained I have decided that the BBC will never show the programme again; nor will we licence it in whole or part to other broadcasters.
“It does of course remain part of the historical record and there may be occasions in the future when it will be justified for the BBC to use short extracts for journalistic purposes, but these will be few and far between and will need to be agreed at executive committee level and set in the full context of what we now know about the way the interview was obtained. I would urge others to exercise similar restraint.”
Additional reporting by Press Association
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