From the blog

UK: BBC To Compensate Diana’s Ex-chauffeur For Slander

Princess Diana’s former chauffeur has settled a High Court slander case with the BBC over claims he leaked information about her before her now infamous Panorama interview.

Stephen Davies was the Princess of Wales’ chauffeur at the time of her TV interview with BBC’s Martin Bashir in November 1995 – but was sacked without explanation in March 1996.

Mr Davies took legal action against the BBC after a probe revealed a document from a meeting in September 1995 which stated that Diana and her brother Earl Spencer were told by Mr Bashir that Mr Davies “feeds Today newspaper… change your chauffeur”.

The BBC said it accepted that the allegation “was and is wholly false”.

Carter-Ruck, the solicitors for Mr Davies, told a hearing on Tuesday that the corporation had accepted that the “serious and unfounded” allegation had been “fabricated”.

It said the BBC had agreed to pay a “sum of compensation” and his legal costs.

Mr Davies said in a statement via the legal firm that he was relieved to have been able to clear his name and his professional reputation as a chauffeur.

He said he had been shocked to hear that false allegation which “were very likely to be the cause of my sudden termination” had been made about him almost 30 years ago.

Carter-Ruck said the lawyer representing Mr Davies, Persephone Bridgman Baker, told the hearing before Mrs Justice Steyn that the implication Mr Davies had leaked confidential information was a “serious blot on his character”.

Ms Bridgman Baker added that the allegations against Mr Davies, who still works as a chauffeur, had since been repeated in the Netflix series The Crown.

Carter-Ruck added that Samuel Rowe, appearing for the BBC at the hearing, said the corporation wished to publicly apologise to Mr Davies for the publication of the allegation and the distress it had caused.

“The BBC accepts that the allegation made about the claimant was and is wholly false and should never have been made, and that it constitutes an attack on the claimant’s reputation both personally and professionally.”

The corporation accepted the claim was likely to have caused Diana to doubt Mr Davies’s “loyalty and professionalism” – and “may well have contributed to the claimant’s redundancy six months later”.

The BBC Panorama sit-down interview with Diana and Mr Bashir was broadcast on 20 November 1995 – when she was separated from the then Prince Charles, but not yet divorced – and featured her saying: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”.