Ofcom rejects Diana crash documentary complaints

Ofcom has turned down more than 60 complaints about a Channel 4 documentary which showed Princess Diana’s last moments – including photographs taken in the Paris road tunnel where she died 10 years ago.

The ITN documentary, Diana: The Witnesses In The Tunnel – which was broadcast in June – featured interviews with the French paparazzi who arrived at the scene of Diana’s death in the early hours of 31 August 1997.

Diana, 36, and her lover Dodi al Fayed, 42, were killed when their Mercedes crashed in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel as they sped away from pursuing photographers after leaving the Ritz Hotel.

The broadcast regulator received 62 complaints from viewers who objected to the showing of the programme and the inclusion of photographs from the crash scene.

Some complainants argued that Channel 4 had been insensitive and disrespectful to the wishes of Diana’s sons, Princes William and Harry. Many argued that the images were unnecessary for the programme and added nothing new to the story.

A number of viewers claimed that it was not in the public interest for the programme to be shown at all.

Channel 4 defended the documentary at the time, arguing that it was acting no worse than the British press and there was a “genuine public interest in what happened after the crash”.

In a statement this morning, Ofcom said: “While some viewers might object on principle to the transmission of the programme or particular elements within it, the images and themes it contained were in line with viewer expectations for this type of investigative historical documentary on Channel 4.

“The programme was transmitted after the watershed and was preceded with detailed information explaining what was in the programme and the fact that it contained carefully selected and edited photographs of the immediate aftermath of the crash.”

Ofcom said the use of photographs was integral to the nature of the programme and recognised that Channel 4 had taken steps to “reduce the visual impact” of the images.

It concluded: “The subject of this documentary is a highly sensitive issue and such photographs can understandably upset viewers and cause offence.

“However, this was a serious piece of investigative journalism examining issues and events which remain firmly in the public consciousness.”

The Channel 4 head of specialist factual, Hamish Mykura, who commissioned the film said: ‘This programme helped dispel some damaging myths about this tragic event. I am delighted that Ofcom agrees that we made appropriate and careful judgements in dealing with the sensitivities it involved.”

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