Channel 4 to telecast rare Diana crash images


London : Britain's Channel 4 is embroiled in a row over it's plans to screen graphic images of the car crash that killed Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.

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The images are to be screened to the public for the first time, and have already been termed as "grossly intrusive" and bound to cause distress to Princes William and Harry. The programme, called "Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel", is to be shown June 6.

According to The Observer, one photograph shows Diana receiving oxygen from a French doctor, Frederic Mailliez, who was travelling in the other direction and had not yet realised the identity of his famous patient. At the front of the car, a passing student is shown trying to help Trevor Rees-Jones, Diana's bodyguard.

In the explicit images of the interior of the car, the face of the dying Diana has been blanked out, as a concession to their highly sensitive nature. The programme also contains testimony from photographers and other witnesses to the 1997 accident.

Patrick Jephson, Diana's former private secretary, expressed revulsion at the use of graphic photos in the new documentary. He said: "I'm profoundly shocked. I don't know what they think they will achieve by it. I'm very unhappy they find it necessary to show this sort of detail."

A Channel 4 spokesman said: "There is a genuine public interest in examining how events unfolded in the hour or so after the crash, and the pictures taken by photographers who were at the scene at the time are an important and accurate eyewitness record that people should be able to see.

"Channel 4 carefully and sensitively selected the pictures used in the programme to illustrate the photographers' eyewitness accounts. We don't think the pictures are intrusive and we have thought very carefully about the sensitivities of the families involved. Appropriate action has been taken to avoid unwanted intrusion into the privacy of the families."

Some photos reportedly show the exact positions of those surrounding the car during the minutes following the accident in the Pont de l'Alma underpass.

Philip Armstrong-Dampier, who produced the documentary, said: "We got the access because we took a long time earning the trust of the people we spoke to. Most of these people – particularly the photographers – have not spoken since that time. This was partly because they felt unable to do so and partly because some of them were being pursued through the courts.

"Some of the pictures we used came from passers-by, others from the police dossier of the images seized at the time. I hope the film shows how the case against the photographers snowballed and how they have been tarred by it all."

Just a couple of days back, Channel 4 was held guilty by Britain's media regulator Ofcom of exaggerating the alleged racist discrimination meted out to Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty in the reality show "Celebrity Big Brother".