Princess Diana’s former nanny will receive a substantial payout from the BBC over unfounded allegations she had an affair with Prince Charles which resulted in an abortion.
The false stories were told about Tiggy Legge-Bourke, now known as Alexandra Pettifer, to obtain the highly criticised 1995 BBC interview with Princess Diana in which she spoke of her unhappy marriage.
Tiggy was a nanny to Princes William and Harry and for years had suffered from the lies that had been circulating about her falling pregnant to Prince Charles, London’s High Court heard.
The fake story had been relayed to Diana during negotiations to convince the princess to agree to the “bombshell” interview with BBC journalist Martin Bashir.
BBC Director-General Tim Davie said in a statement the national broadcaster had agreed to pay substantial damages to Mrs Pettifer and would withdraw the much-criticised interview from broadcast.
“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.”
While negotiating for the interview, Princess Diana was told the nanny to the princes “had been operated on for an abortion”.
In the BBC’s apology at the High Court, the broadcaster admitted the claims of an affair with Prince Charles and abortion “were wholly baseless, should never have been made, and that the BBC did not, at the time, adequately investigate serious concerns”.
Solicitor Louise Prince said Mrs Pettifer had not known the source of the false stories for the last 25 years, but it was “likely that these 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”.
Ms Prince said the former nanny was “relieved that the BBC accepts that the allegations are completely untrue and without any foundation whatsoever”.
The High Court heard that Mrs Pettifer “did not have an affair with HRH The Prince of Wales, did not become pregnant with his child, and did not have an abortion”.
In a statement reported by The Sunday Times, Mrs Pettifer said she was disappointed she had to resort to legal action in order for the BBC to recognise “the serious harm I have been subject to”.
“Sadly I am one of many people whose lives have been scarred by the deceitful way in which the BBC Panorama was made and the BBC’s subsequent failure to properly investigate the making of the programme”.
“The distress caused to the Royal Family is a source of great upset to me.
“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.”
Last year a report concluded that Bashir used fake documents to gain the trust of Diana and her brother and trick the princess into the interview, and that this deception was covered up by the BBC.
The BBC’s Mr Davie said the broadcaster regretted it did not take action even when “there were warning signs that the interview might have been obtained improperly”.
He said the BBC would never air the program again or license it to other broadcasters.