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Legal 500, 2022

Alexandra Pettifer

Alexandra Pettifer has successfully settled her claim for defamation brought against the BBC.

The claim related to a number of false and malicious allegations which were made during the making of the BBC Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, in late 1995 about Mrs Pettifer, who was then known as Tiggy Legge-Bourke.

The Joint Statement in Open Court was read today by Louise Prince of Harbottle & Lewis on behalf of Mrs Pettifer, and Jonathan Scherbel-Ball of 5RB on behalf of the BBC, before his Honour Mr Justice Nicklin.

Ms Prince told the Court that the Mrs Pettifer is “relieved that the BBC accepts that the allegations are completely untrue and without any foundation whatsoever. She is also pleased that the BBC has agreed to apologise unreservedly…in order to assist her in repairing the substantial harm it has caused her. The BBC has agreed to pay to her a substantial sum of damages…It has also agreed to pay her legal costs”.

Mr Scherbel-Ball confirmed all that had been said on Mrs Pettifer’s behalf. He told the Court “The BBC accepts that the allegations were wholly baseless, should never have been made, and that the BBC did not, at the time, adequately investigate serious concerns over the circumstances in which the BBC secured the Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales…..The BBC is extremely sorry for the serious and prolonged harm caused to [Mrs Pettifer] and the historical investigative shortcoming. It is pleased that the parties have been able to resolve these issues amicably by joining in this Statement in Open Court and by the BBC paying her substantial compensation and her legal costs.

Mrs Pettifer said “I am disappointed that it needed legal action for the BBC to recognise the serious harm I have been subjected 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.

A copy of the statement in open court can be found here.

Mrs Pettifer was represented by Louise Prince and Hugo Tyrrell.

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