We'd never print Diana death photos, British journalists say

As a cross-party group of MPs called for a ban on the publication of a picture of a dying Princess Diana, British journalists have said they would never publish such pictures anyway.

The row over the Diana pictures broke out on Friday as Italian magazine Chi ran a photo taken of Diana shortly after the 1997 Paris car crash in which she died. The picture also appeared in Italian daily paper, Corriere della Sera.

An early day motion tabled on Monday condemned the publication of the image and called for the photograph to be banned in the UK.

Chair of the photography division of the Chartered Institute of Journalists Paul Stewart said that, if the pictures had dropped on his desk, he would offer them to the editor for consideration, but would advise against running them.

He told Press Gazette: "Closer to the time, perhaps it would have made a very strong anti-drink-driving message. In those kind of circumstances, I could perhaps understand, but it would [still] be difficult. You obviously wouldn't want to do that without the permission of the family."

Stewart said: "You're getting to the point here where you decide what is ‘of interest' to the public [or just] ‘interesting' to the public. This late on, it's more a question of gawping. There's nothing to be learnt from that picture."

At the time the pictures were taken, in August 1997, Stewart was working at the Daily Mirror, where the decision was taken not to use the photos.

He said: "When the pictures came out originally, they came over the wires on the night of the crash. Nobody ran them then. I couldn't imagine a British newspaper running them now. Public feeling would be outraged."

Sunday Times picture editor Ray Wells said: "The fact that it's the Princess of Wales taking her last breath does make it different. The context in which pictures were taken and subsequently published is always important, but in this instance, it seems to me entirely gratuitous. The story itself was big enough. It didn't need pictures of the Princess dying — people were in a state of shock as it was."

Wells said he didn't believe any UK newspaper would print the pictures. He added: "One of the concerns [will be] that people will ask: ‘Why are you doing this?'

If you end up upsetting readers more than you inform them, then you risk them not buying your paper any more."

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