I finally saw Channel 4’s controversial Diana documentary. Normally I tend to avoid things like this. Our royal family holds little interest for me. But it was getting mentioned everywhere and I wanted to know what it was that had annoyed so many people. So when I noticed a repeat as I was channel hopping, I decided to check it out. I was glad I did.
Having watched it, my first impression was (as I expected) that there was no basis to the complaints. The stated reason for the hoo-hah was pictures of the event. And in fact there were pictures of the wreckage and of other witnesses in the program. But there were certainly no recognisable images of dead or dying occupants. The pictures that were shown presented evidence to back up the stories of the witnesses.
It disputed the story that the photographers were in hot pursuit when the crash happened. This story was reported almost immediately by the British media and never, to my knowledge, substantiated or retracted. Having little interest in this event I had accepted this version of events without any evidence. I think it is irresponsible of the media to broadcast rumours like this. However, I must take responsibility for this slip in my own critical thinking and I’m grateful to the documentary makers for finally bringing it to my attention.
It refuted other reports that photographers interfered with rescue efforts. And it did this with a falsifiable counter-claim. I think this adds credibility to the documentary team. Given the presence of photographers at the scene it is reasonable to assume that photographs exist documenting the event. A single picture of a photographer clambering over the wreckage, or a manhandled rescue worker would discredit the entire program.
The program told the stories of several witnesses. These were very different stories to those told by the rest of the media. I wonder now where the generally reported views originated? Certainly they cannot have come from those witnesses interviewed in the documentary. Is it over-active imagination on behalf of reporters? Or did the documentary team purposely avoid or omit contradictory accounts?
Whatever the source, the photographers were quickly arrested and later charged. It took several years, but all charges were eventually dropped. And that is a worryingly familiar story in itself.
Following the crash, the photographers were subjected to the same kind of unwanted attention and baseless speculation that they had conspired to inflict on others. Several have left the paparazzi as a result. Is this nature’s justice?