Princess Diana’s family roundly denounced CBS News for airing photos of Diana at the scene of her death, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair also expressing his displeasure.
Eye news execs continued to stand by the broadcast, saying it was a valid news story and that the photocopied images of the 1997 car crash in a Paris tunnel that claimed Diana’s life were in no way graphic or exploitative.
Photocopies, airing on Wednesday’s edition of “48 Hours Investigates,” came from a file of paparazzi photographs in the possession of French authorities, who seized the film.
The mainstream British media have never printed or aired the pictures of Diana, although some appeared in other European publications and on the Internet.
Earl Charles Spencer, Diana’s brother, said in a statement released soon after the “48 Hours” broadcast that he and his family were “shocked and sickened by CBS’ actions.”
At his monthly news conference Thursday in London, Blair said, “Everyone finds it distasteful” that a news net would air pictures that can “cause distress to the family.”
Buckingham Palace said it wouldn’t comment specifically on the CBS broadcast but that “we’ve made our opinion very clear in the past on this sort of thing.”
The “48 Hours” piece was a one-hour report on the circumstances surrounding the crash and Diana’s death, including information from a 4,000-page confidential French government report. The photos were used to examine the medical treatment administered to the princess just after the crash.
Net said there was no negative reaction to the broadcast among U.S. viewers.
The father of Dodi al Fayed, who also lost his life in the crash, said his lawyers asked CBS News not to air the photocopies.
“We cannot imagine that CBS News would want to be the first enterprise to breach the collective understanding of the media based upon good taste, propriety, decency and sympathy,” Mohamed al Fayed said through his lawyers. He has long maintained that Diana was murdered.
Britain launched an inquest into Diana’s death this year, with evidence due to be heard next year.
(Wire services contributed to this report.)