BBC Apologizes to Royal Nanny Swept Up in Diana Reporting Furor

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LONDON — She was collateral injury in one of the sensational reporting scoops in British TV historical past, a royal nanny to Prince William and Prince Harry tarnished by the BBC in its quest for an interview with their mom, Princess Diana.

On Thursday, the BBC apologized to the previous nanny, Alexandra Pettifer, then generally known as Tiggy Legge-Bourke, for spreading false allegations that she had an affair with Prince Charles and had undergone an abortion after changing into pregnant along with his baby. The BBC additionally agreed to pay her a considerable, if undisclosed, quantity in damages.

“These allegations had been fabricated,” Mrs. Pettifer’s lawyer, Louise Prince, learn out in a collectively agreed assertion within the Excessive Court docket in London.

The BBC mentioned within the assertion that it was “extraordinarily sorry for the intense and extended hurt” the accusations had brought on Ms. Pettifer, and that they had been “wholly baseless” and “ought to by no means have been made.”

Mrs. Pettifer, 57, grew to become a lurid footnote within the soap-opera lives of Charles and Diana when an formidable younger BBC journalist, Martin Bashir, started circulating stories about her supposed sexual entanglement with Charles, apparently as a approach of successful Diana’s belief so she would give him an unique tell-all interview.

Mr. Bashir additionally advised Diana that individuals near her had been promoting tales about her to the London tabloids, and he created pretend financial institution statements to undermine a rival information group. These underhand strategies landed Mr. Bashir the interview for the BBC program “Panorama” in 1995, which proved as large a bombshell because the interview Harry and his spouse, Meghan, gave to Oprah Winfrey in March 2021.

“There have been three of us on this marriage,” Diana famously mentioned to Mr. Bashir of her husband and Camilla Parker-Bowles, with whom he had a relationship earlier than and through his marriage, and whom he later married.

This system has since develop into a festering supply of disgrace, and expense, for the BBC. The broadcaster has apologized to the royal household, paid damages to different individuals discredited by it, and promised by no means to air it once more.

Questions on Mr. Bashir’s ways had been raised quickly after the interview was broadcast, most vocally by Diana’s brother, Charles, Earl Spencer. An inner investigation by the BBC exonerated Mr. Bashir, however in 2021, an inquiry carried out by a former justice of the British Supreme Court docket, Lord John Dyson, concluded that “the BBC fell in need of the excessive requirements of integrity and transparency, that are its hallmark.”

Credit score…Fred Prouser/Reuters

On Thursday, the BBC’s director-general, Tim Davie, issued one more apology to the royal household, in addition to a brand new one to Mrs. Pettifer.

“It’s a matter of nice remorse that the BBC didn’t get to the information within the speedy aftermath of this system, when there have been warning indicators that the interview may need been obtained improperly,” Mr. Davie mentioned. “Had we performed our job correctly, Princess Diana would have identified the reality in her lifetime.”

The BBC, Mr. Davie reiterated, won’t ever once more broadcast this system, or license it to different broadcasters. Due to its historic worth, he didn’t rule out airing extracts from the interview.

Mr. Bashir, who went on to report for ABC Information and returned to the BBC as a faith correspondent, resigned from the broadcaster in Might 2021, citing poor well being. He has expressed remorse for his strategies however insisted they didn’t in the end play a job in getting Diana to take a seat for the interview.

Mrs. Pettifer was certainly one of a rotating forged of characters within the ceaseless tabloid protection of Charles and Diana. The daughter of a rich banker who served in Royal Horse Guards, she grew up in an aristocratic world of Swiss ending colleges and an ancestral property in Wales and later opened a nursery faculty. Charles employed her to be a nanny for his sons shortly after he and Diana separated in 1993.

Newspapers leaped on rumors that Diana objected to Mrs. Pettifer’s baby care practices — she smoked whereas taking good care of William and Harry — and handed alongside secondhand accounts of her views about what the younger princes actually wanted (“contemporary air, a rifle and a horse”), The Guardian reported in 1999.

However there was by no means any corroboration of the rumors that the nanny had develop into concerned with the boys’ father.

In 1999, she resigned from the family of Prince Charles and married Charles Pettifer, a former officer within the Coldstream Guards. William and Harry, who had been mentioned to adore her, attended their marriage ceremony.

In a press release revealed by The Sunday Instances, Mrs. Pettifer mentioned, “I’m upset that it wanted authorized motion for the BBC to acknowledge the intense hurt I’ve been subjected to.” She mentioned that she knew “firsthand” how a lot the Diana interview had affected the royal household and that their misery “is a supply of nice upset to me.”

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