BBC pays ex-royal nanny compensation for Bashir’s ‘cheating’ Diana interview | BBC

The BBC has agreed to pay substantial damages to former royal nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke after false allegations that she was having an affair with Prince Charles were used to obtain Martin Bashir’s 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.

Legge-Bourke’s attorney Louise Prince told the Supreme Court the allegations had “serious personal consequences for everyone involved.”

In addition to being charged with the affair, the court was told that Legge-Bourke was falsely accused of being pregnant with Charles’s baby and having an abortion.

Prince said Legge-Bourke, now known as Alexandra Pettifer, had not known the source of the allegations for the past 25 years, but it was now likely that the “false and malicious allegations arose as a result and in the context of the efforts from BBC Panorama to provide an exclusive interview with Diana, Princess of Wales”.

Bashir is said to have spread the false accusations in his successful attempt to gain Diana’s trust and convince her to sit down for the Panorama interview. In an effort to gain access to the princess, the journalist also made fake bank statements and suggested that people close to Diana were selling stories to newspapers.

Originally hailed as one of the greatest journalistic firsts of all time – with Diana sharing the details of her failed relationship with Prince Charles to tens of millions of people – the Panorama interview is now considered so poisonous that BBC Director General, Tim Davie , has promised never to show it again.

Davie again apologized to the royal family on Thursday for the “deceptive tactics” the BBC used in pursuing her interview and “for the way Princess Diana was misled and the subsequent impact on their entire lives”.

He said it was a matter of regret that the BBC for the first time failed to follow up on allegations about the interview in the 1990s.

“If we had done our job properly, Princess Diana would have known the truth in her lifetime. We failed her, the royal family and our audience.

“Now that we know the shocking way the interview was obtained, I have decided that the BBC will never run the program again; nor will we license it in whole or in part to other broadcasters.

“Of course it remains part of the historical record and there may be occasions in the future where it is justified for the BBC to use short extracts for journalistic purposes, but these will be very few and will have to be agreed upon at the level of the executive committee and placed in the full context of what we now know about how the interview was obtained. I would urge others to show similar restraint.”

The settlement with Pettifer was announced on Thursday at the Supreme Court. She became a public figure in the 1990s when she cared for the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex as children during the time of their parents’ divorce.

In a statement, Pettifer said: “I am disappointed that legal action was required for the BBC to acknowledge the serious damage I have suffered. Sadly, I am one of many people whose lives have been scarred by the deceptive way the BBC Panorama was made and the subsequent failure of the BBC to properly investigate the making of the programme.

“The suffering inflicted on the royal family is a source of great annoyance to me. I know firsthand how much they were affected at the time and how the program and the false story it created haunted the family in the years since. Especially because to this day there is still so much to explain about the creation of the program.”

Her settlement is the latest in a series of payouts related to the interview, which have collectively cost the BBC millions of pounds in compensation and legal costs.

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Matt Wiessler, a graphic designer who was blacklisted by the industry for making false bank statements on Bashir’s orders, was awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds. Diana’s former private secretary Patrick Jephson received a significant amount which he donated to charity, while the BBC has also made a donation to charity as an apology to the royal family. It is believed that negotiations with another person affected by the interview are ongoing.

Bashir used his interview with Diana to become a global star, later interviewing people like Michael Jackson and then working in the US where he was a regular on television news networks. Persistent questions about his journalistic ethics were ignored when he returned to the BBC in 2016 as a religious affairs correspondent.

However, the 25th anniversary of the Panorama interview in 2020 led to a re-evaluation of the program, with Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, pushing for a full investigation into how it was obtained. Journalists used freedom of information requests to obtain internal BBC documents showing that the company was aware of claims about Bashir’s misdeeds shortly after the broadcast.

Bashir left the BBC in 2021, citing ill health, before the publication of a damning independent report by Lord Dyson.

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