Face the Press

The Princess and the Press

The death of Diana, Princess of Wales, has once again focused attention on the intrusive behaviour of some journalists.

Diana's brother, Earl Charles Spencer, accused journalists of having her "blood on their hands". The Princess died when her car crashed into a wall, while it was pursued by so-called paparazzi, photographers hoping to snatch pictures of famous people, on motorbikes.

Diana & Cameras
Facing the cameras in happier days
The Princess had an ambivalent relationship with the media. At times she complained about the media's intrusion, accusing photographers and journalists of making normal life impossible for her. Several times she appeared to be driven to tears as she was pursued by paparazzi.

At other times, however, she seemed to crave the attention of the press. In the run-up to her divorce from Prince Charles and in the years afterwards she sometimes fed information to journalists. During private moments she often appeared to pose for the photographers. Several weeks ago, while on holiday with Dodi Fayed, she approached the press pack on her own accord.

"The Interview":
Diana bared all
Experts say the Princess was adept at manipulating the media. This culminated in the frank interview she gave the BBC's Panorama programme, in which she confessed to adultery and described the psychological problems she had during her marriage.

The Princess used the media interest in her when she campaigned for a series of good causes, among them the call to ban landmines and help for AIDS charities.

French police arrest seven French paparazzi
On the evening of Diana's car crash, around 30 photographers had gathered outside the Ritz Hotel in Paris, where she was meeting her friend, Dodi Fayed. The couple tried to evade their attention by leaving through the hotel's back door. But some of the paparazzi discovered their exit and gave chase.

After the accident, the police arrested seven French photographers. A criminal investigation is under way to determine whether they were involved in the accident.

Calls For New Privacy Laws

The Labour MP Roger Stott, a member of the Commons National Heritage Select Committee, said his committee should now hold an inquiry into whether there should be new privacy laws. Roger Gale, vice-chairman of the Conservative backbench media committee, described the deaths as "the ultimate result of press intrusion".

Bernie Corbett, National Organiser of the National Union of Journalists, however, said he hoped that the Princess' death would not lead to "panic legislation".

The doyen of all paparazzi, Tazio Secchiarolli, said it would be wrong to blame the photographers: "Certainly, the paparazzi antagonize people, but if you let them take the photo, they go away. The fault is on both sides."

Diana's family will not agree.