The editor of Chi, the Italian magazine that controversially published pictures of the dying Princess Diana, has hit back at British tabloids, accusing them of 'professional envy'.
Chi editor Umberto Brindani defended his magazine's publication of a picture taken of Diana shortly after the Paris accident in which she died in 1997.
The publication of the photographs has been condemned by several British newspapers.
"I am more than a little surprised by the fuss being artfully created in Great Britain around the publication by Chi of a number of previously unpublished documents relating to the late Princess of Wales," Brindani said.
"I have to point to the irony that it is a number of British tabloids who seem to be upset, the very same tabloids that, both before and after the death of Diana, spared no efforts in attempting to discredit her using phone taps, recordings of private conversations, and reporting events of dubious taste, along with an avalanche of revelations about presumed lovers (the most recent, only a few days ago). Clearly, there are times when the search and respect for the truth gives way to professional envy or interests wholly unconcerned with the freedom of the press."
He added that all of the material used in Chi's story, including the last photo of Diana, came from the files of the criminal investigation which were conducted by the French authorities.
Bridani said: "The photograph is part of the official record. This photo is news in itself, given that for years there have been rumours and a series of false and falsified images circulating on the internet. If nothing else, our publication of the photograph puts an end to speculation.
"The image itself is neither brutal nor offensive, prurient or shocking, on the contrary, I would describe it as tender and moving, and believe that in no way does it indicate a lack of respect for the Princess or for the feelings of her family or of readers in general"
However, Diana's sons, Princes William and Harry, today issued a statement strongly criticising Chi's decision to use the image appealled to the world's media "to appreciate fully that publishing such material causes great hurt to us, our father, our mother's family and all those who so loved and respected her."
But Bridani argued that Chi had done nothing more than to "exercise correctly (and dutifully) our right to report news".
"While I understand and share the unease expressed by Diana's sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, I think it is unequivocally in the interest of us all to try to discover what really happened that terrible night in Paris," he said.
Bridani argued that it was important to publish the story given that some people do not accept the official French account of accidental death.
Mohamed al Fayed, whose son Dodi died in the crash with Diana, has also criticised the publication. But Bridani said al Fayed's rejection of the official version of events helped justify the publication.
"It is understandable, though not justifiable, that al Fayed is now attacking press freedom when it recounts theories different from his own. I, on the contrary, believe that every element that might lead us closer to the truth about an event that shocked and moved the whole world, should be published, whatever that truth turns out to be.