BBC to pay Williams former nanny over false allegations used to obtain Diana Panorama interview

Prince William's former nanny has received substantial damages from the BBC over "false and malicious” allegations used to obtain Martin Bashir’s 1995 Panorama interview with Princess Diana.

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 the same year.

Alongside the allegation of the affair, the court was told that William's former nanny was falsely accused of becoming pregnant with Charles baby and then having an abortion.

Her solicitor, Louise Prince, said that the source of the allegations has been unknown to her for the past 25 years, but that it was now likely that 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 was told that the Dyson Investigation, commissioned by the broadcaster, had “shed some light” on how the interview had been secured. The solicitor said that 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. Had the BBC not fallen short, the claimant and her family could have been spared 25 years of lies, suspicion and upset.”

Jonathan Scherbel-Ball of lawyers 5RB on behalf of the BBC later told the court: “The BBC accepts that the allegations were wholly baseless, should never have been made, and that the BBC did not, at the time, adequately investigate serious concerns over the circumstances in which the BBC secured the Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales…"

BBC director-general Tim Davie issued a public apology following the outcome as he shared: “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."

He went on to declare that the Panorama interview will never be aired on the programme in full again as he said: "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.”

Following the settlement of her claim of defamation, Ms Legge-Bourke, now Pettifer, shared her disappointment that it took legal action for the broadcaster to "recognise the serious harm I have been subjected to."

She explained that she is one of many people whose lives has been scarred by the ways in which the BBC Panorama interview was obtained.

“The distress caused to the royal family is a source of great upset to me," she added. “I know first-hand how much they were affected at the time, and how the programme and the false narrative it created have haunted the family in the years since. Especially because, still today, so much about the making of the programme is yet to be adequately explained.”

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Louise Prince of Harbottle & Lewis, said on behalf of Ms Legge-Bourke that she is “relieved that the BBC accepts that the allegations are completely untrue and without any foundation whatsoever."

"The BBC has agreed to pay to her a substantial sum of damages… It has also agreed to pay her legal costs," Louise added.

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