London newspaper says Diana tape a hoax
October 8, 1996
Web posted at: 8:00 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT)
LONDON (CNN) -- A video tape purporting to
be of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her
former lover, James Hewitt turned out to be
"one of the most elaborate hoaxes of the
decade," the editor of The Sun, Stuart
Higgins, said Tuesday.
The newspaper said it had been "conned by
cunning fraudsters," and apologized to
Diana and Hewitt for publishing a story and
photos from the tape.
The video tape in question, an 80-second
long video, claimed to show the princess
dressed in sports pants and bra frolicking
with her lover. The tape was described as
"heavily edited" and the black-and-white
video was grainy.
At Kensington Palace, the princess'
spokesman said, "The Princess of Wales has
authorized me to tell you that she does not
recognize either herself or Major James
Hewitt in these photographs."
In its statement retracting the story, the
Sun said, "The 80-second film was offered
to the editor of The Sun last week during a
clandestine meeting with two men who acted
"We made our best endeavors to corroborate
the contents of the film with independent
witnesses confirming the apparent identity
of the princess and Mr. Hewitt. We also
hired the services of surveillance experts
to assess and give their verdicts on the
original source of the film."
The Sun said the video had confirmed
Diana's fears that she was under secret
surveillance during the break-up of her 15-
year marriage to Prince Charles.
Hewitt also told the tabloid he believed
that he and Diana were under surveillance.
Buckingham Palace denied any involvement in
Higgins said he took full responsibility
for the mistake and would apologize in
writing to both the princess and Hewitt.
"I believe The Sun and myself were victims
of a sophisticated hoax deliberately aimed
at embarrassing myself and The Sun
newspaper which prides itself on getting
things right and has established a
reputation for doing so," said Higgins.
"I would also like to apologize to our 11
million loyal readers who look to The Sun
as their ally on all fronts and should not
have been subjected to publication of this
hoax," he said.
Diana's divorce from Prince Charles was
made official on August 28, 1996, after the
couple had been separated for four years.
She remains a princess, although she can no
longer be addressed as "Her Royal
Highness." Charles and Diana will share
custody of their two sons.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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