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Channel 4 on Monday said it will go ahead with the broadcast of a film showing previously unseen photographs of Princess Diana in the car crash that killed her in 1997, de-spite anger from the late Princess’ friends and criticism from politicians.
The broadcaster, which earlier this year stoked controversy with the fictionalized assassination of President George Bush in “Death of a President,” has denied the program is sensationalizing Diana’s death and has described the film as “responsible,” dismissing the media furor.
Channel 4 said it will broadcast “Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel” next week, to mark the 10th anniversary of the princess’ death. Newspapers here have reported that the program features previously unpublished photographs of the princess receiving medical attention from a doctor as she lay dying in the back of the black Mercedes S-class vehicle in which her lover, Dodi Fayed, and the driver, Henri Paul, also were killed.
Very few of the photos taken by paparazzi and passers by on the night of the crash in August 1997 have surfaced in the media, and many were confiscated as evidence by the French legal authorities in the aftermath of the crash in the Pont d’Alma in Paris.
The broadcaster said the images shown in the program, which was made by its history department, have been “carefully and sensitively selected” and that the identities of those in the car had been blacked out.
“These photographs are an important and accurate eyewitness record of how events unfolded after the crash,” a Channel 4 statement said.
“We acknowledge there is great public sensitivity surrounding pictures of the victims and these have not been included,” Channel 4 said, adding that it believed the events were the subject of “genuine public interest” to know how the events leading to Diana’s death had unfolded.
The broadcaster’s comments have not mollified critics.
In an interview for BBC radio, longtime Diana family friend Rosa Monckton accused Channel 4 of using the footage to lure viewers and said it would damage her sons.
“They must have released the fact that they were using this image as part of their publicity campaign,” Monckton told the “PM” program on BBC Radio 4. “Why else would people want to tune in? It’s rather like how people stop on the motorway to look at car crashes, but they are summoning people, they are saying ‘Roll up, roll up, come and look at this.’ ”
“She can’t be hurt by this anymore but her sons can,” she added.
Hugo Swire, the member of parliament who speaks for culture and media affairs for the opposition Conservative party, said the film would violate Diana’s privacy and cause further grief to her sons.
“This kind of coverage must be deeply distressing to Princes William and Harry,” Swire said. “It is difficult to see who will be served from broadcasting such sensational and private material,” he said.
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