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October 31, 2007

Diana Coroner granted C4 order

Category: News

Witness accounts given for documentary to be provided to crash Inquest


Channel Four has been ordered to hand over eye-witness accounts gathered for a documentary into the paparazzi involvement in the Diana crash to the Inquest being conducted by Lord Justice Scott-Baker.


The C4 documentary, The Witnesses in the Tunnel broadcast on 6 June 2007, looked at the role of photographers in relation to the crash and caused controversy at the time because of the inclusion of some photographs showing the inside of the Mercedes immediately after the crash. Media regulator, Ofcom, received over 2,000 complaints about the programme, but later ruled in favour of C4’s decision to broadcast.


The Coroner sought documents, including untransmitted interviews, from C4 which recorded accounts given by contributors to the programme about the events on the evening of the crash.


The broadcaster had challenged the Coroner’s right to obtain the material on various grounds including that its disclosure would be likely to identify two confidential sources.


However, in explaining his reasons for granting the Order, Mr Justice Eady today ruled that the interest of justice required that the Diana Inquest should have the material.


“It is common knowledge that some of the matters the Coroner wishes to explore, as exhaustively as possible, include whether there was any kind of conspiracy to murder or harm the Princess of Wales and/or Mr Al Fayed, and also whether security services were involved in any improper or unlawful activity in connection with the deaths. It goes without saying, not least because there have already been several inquiries into these matters, that any lingering concerns among sections of the public about such matters would only be confirmed or allayed following the most rigorous scrutiny.”


The Coroner’s court has no independent powers to summon witnesses or documents and so Scott Baker LJ needed to apply to the High Court for a witness summons against the broadcaster.


Click here for the 5RB case report and full judgment.