My documentary about the Diana inquest will be shown everywhere but the UK. Here’s why
The internet is a global lavatory wall, a Rabelaisian mixture of truth, lies, insanity and humour. I felt its power and madness this week, when an excerpt from my new film, Unlawful Killing, was leaked on to YouTube and seized on by US conspiracy theorists, who immediately began claiming that the CIA had murdered Princess Diana, thereby allowing others to dismiss my documentary as mad.
Deriding its critics as mad is an age-old British establishment trick. My “inquest of the inquest” film contains footage of Diana recalling how the royals wanted her consigned to a mental institution, and the inquest coroner repeatedly questioning the sanity of anyone who wondered if the crash was more than an accident. His chief target was Mohamed Al Fayed, a man I once profiled for a Channel 4 documentary. Before I met him, I’d half-believed the media caricature of him as a madman, driven nuts by the death of his son, and wildly accusing the Windsors of having planned the 1997 crash. However, I found a man who was sane and funny but frustrated that Britain wouldn’t hold an inquest into his son’s death. Michael Mansfield QC thought it unfair too, and fought for one to be held; which was why the longest inquest in British legal history eventually began in 2007.
Long before the inquest started, the eminently sane Mansfield had persuaded me that there were suspicious circumstances surrounding the crash, and signs of a cover-up by the authorities. Many journalists agreed, but as the inquest drew near, I noticed that British newspapers (several of which had regularly run “Was Diana Murdered?” pieces) suddenly fell into line, and started insisting that the inquest was a waste of time. They raised no protest when virtually all the key French witnesses refused to participate, nor did they find it odd that not one senior royal was ordered to appear, even though Diana had stated in a lawyer’s note that the Windsors were planning an “accident” to her car. Nor did they raise the issue of possible bias when legal proceedings involving the integrity of the royal family were to be heard in the royal courts of justice before a coroner who’d sworn an oath of allegiance to the Queen.
I felt the need to raise it, so I asked every major UK broadcaster (BBC, ITV, C4, Five, Sky) to commission a TV documentary about the inquest. But they refused even to contemplate such a suggestion, so Associated Rediffusion and I began filming and financing it ourselves. Shortly before the inquest began, Fayed offered to fund our project, so we could make a feature-length cinema documentary instead. We agreed, on condition that we would report events in the way we saw them, and the deal was struck.
Unlawful Killing is not about a conspiracy before the crash, but a provable conspiracy after the crash.