Daily Mail apologises to Earl Spencer over Diana allegation

The Daily Mail has apologised to Earl Spencer, brother to the late Princess Diana, over stories it published both in the newspaper and online in January 2017. It had alleged that he had refused his sister any accommodation on his Althorp estate after the collapse of her marriage to Prince Charles. The article, published in the ‘Platell’s People’ column had accurately reported that Earl Spencer refused his sister’s request for accommodation in a particular cottage ‘The Garden House’, but the paper failed to mention that he had instead offered her other properties on the estate. The article made the defamatory allegation that Earl Spencer had ‘acted in an unbrotherly, heartless and callous way towards his sister’ in refusing her accommodation at a time when she needed refuge away from Kensington Palace. That allegation was untrue and caused him distress and embarrassment.

Following letters of complaint the Daily Mail made an offer of amends – a procedure which publishers can use when they have made an error and are willing to correct it. The legal representatives of Earl Spencer and the Daily Mail have made a statement in open court, and the newspaper will publish an apology. They have also agreed not to publish the allegation again and will pay damages and costs. Because the publisher used the offer of amends procedure they will be required to pay a lower sum in damages than if they had fought the case.