This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 6, 2003.
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BILL O’REILLY, HOST: The ghost of Princess Diana (search) is certainly haunting her husband, Prince Charles. There's now a formal inquest in Great Britain into the deaths of Diana and her boyfriend, Dodi al Fayed.
In 1997, you'll remember the couple was killed when their car crashed in Paris, France. They were being chased by paparazzi. Since that time, there have been conspiracy theories all over the place. And now Prince Charles has been dragged directly into it. A London newspaper, it's a tabloid, and it's reporting a printed note written by Diana, which says she believed somebody was trying to hurt her. That somebody's name was originally blacked out by this newspaper a few months ago. But now The Daily Mirror says the blacked out name is Prince Charles. And that accusation's causing a huge uproar not only in England, all over the world.
Joining us now from Boston is Elaine Whitfield Sharp, an attorney and expert on British law. And here in the studio, Dr. Allan Starkie, author of the book "A Date with Death." But before we get to our guests, here's what Sarah Ferguson had to say about the situation this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH FERGUSON, DUCHESS OF YORK: I'm deeply shocked.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it wrong?
FERGUSON: It's speculation, allegation, speculation, all that rubbish. The tabloids have gone too far. It's disgraceful. I won't even begin to discuss it. It's absolutely outrageous. I know it has nothing to do with you, but it is outrageous. It is totally and utterly making comments and speculation. And I'm absolutely horrified. I have never been shocked. Normally I'm never at a loss for words. I'm at a loss for words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: All right, Ms. Sharp in Boston, does Prince Charles have any legal recourse here?
ELAINE WHITFIELD SHARP, BRITISH LAW EXPERT: Well, I think he might. You know, to prove defamation in England, you have to have publication about, you know, a false statement, that tends to lower the person in the eyes of the right-thinking members of the society. I think we've possibly got that here if, indeed, the statement is false.
But what is the statement? I think you have to look at what it is. It's merely Princess Diana's speculation. It's her belief. There are no facts alleged here. And without any facts being alleged, it's nothing more than speculation.
O'REILLY: Okay, but here's the problem.
SHARP: There's not evidence of anything.
O'REILLY: In England it's different than the United States. Okay?
SHARP: That's right.
O'REILLY: Because the United States, if you're famous, you can pretty much say anything about anybody here.
SHARP: Pretty much.
O'REILLY: But in England, all right, you can prove malice. Now if there are no facts to back this up and I'm Prince Charles, I'm going in and saying, listen, anybody can write anything about me. That doesn't give The Daily Mirror the right to print it. This is malicious. They can't back it up. And I want $20 million. Do I get it?
SHARP: Maybe. But would you be wise to ask for it is the question. I mean, the palace has its own public relations machine. He doesn't really need to go to court to vindicate his good name. You know, strategically I think it would be very unwise for him to sue because...
O'REILLY: Why? Why would it be unwise for him?
SHARP: Because The Daily Mirror would raise truth as a defense.
O'REILLY: And how could they prove it?
SHARP: Well, they believe that it might be true.
O'REILLY: Oh, well, you got to have something more than their belief. Wait a minute. Doctor, come on.
ALLAN STARKIE, PHD, "A DATE WITH DEATH": Actually, Elaine's right in some points, but they don't even need to prove that it's true. All they have to say it's been entered into the public domain. It was a letter Diana wrote, which was given...
O'REILLY: But personal. It was a personal letter. It wasn't a public letter.
STARKIE: That's right. But he's entered it into the public domain now posthumously.
O'REILLY: Who has entered it?
STARKIE: Paul Burrell.
O'REILLY: But does he have any right to enter it into the public domain?
STARKIE: Many things were given to him for safekeeping. In fact, he was under investigation for stealing things, memorabilia from Diana. And the queen intervened in his trial and the whole thing fell apart, which means that he's got a lot of support from the palace.
O'REILLY: Right. They don't want anymore dirty laundry.
STARKIE: They don't want to dirty laundry.
O'REILLY: But doctor, look, the newspaper publishes a note written in private, okay. The newspaper embarrasses the prince, all right, and does him harm. I think everybody would agree that a note like this, accusing somebody of murder, all right, is harmful. Now the newspaper, unless they have other evidence to back it up, seems to me grossly negligent in this area. Am I wrong?
STARKIE: No, you're right.
SHARP: I would agree with that.
STARKIE: And I agree with Elaine. You're right, they're wrong to do it, but Prince Charles is not going to sue them. It's not his style. He's never done this in the past. He hasn't even injuncted people when they've violated the official secrecy.
O'REILLY: What's he going to do then, doctor?
STARKIE: He will do nothing. He'll stand above this and say let the coroner conduct his investigation. The investigation will be nothing more than translating 6,000 pages of French, information that was collated over the last five years. It'll be as worthless as a Warren Commission report was to us.
O'REILLY: All right, do you concur with that, Ms. Sharp?
SHARP: Yes. You know, I think this has become the equivalent to the grassy knoll. And you know, those who believe you're part of a conspiracy are never going to believe you weren't, no matter what the inquest finds, no matter even if you prevail in a court of law.
O'REILLY: Yes, 80 percent of the British public, according to the polls, believe there's some kind of conspiracy here, which is pretty astronomical belief. But you think that...
SHARP: I think there is a conspiracy to cover up on the part of the French authorities. There's a very sloppy investigation in France. And I think the sloppy investigation and basically the tacit agreements of some of the French officials to not make some of the information public sooner and not make some of the information public at all has fed into the conspiracy theory.
O'REILLY: Well, be that as it may, there may be things about this, but when you start to say that Prince Charles -- now, the troubling thing about this is that Diana actually wrote this.
SHARP: That's right. She believed it.
O'REILLY: It's troubling. It doesn't make it true.
SHARP: That's right.
O'REILLY: She may have, you know, just been bitter about things or anything like that. But if that note came to me, I can't put that on the air unless I know there's more to it.
SHARP: I agree with you, Bill. I agree. And I don't think any responsible journalist would put it on the air unless they have something to corroborate it. I have it on good information today from a source at The Daily Mirror that they took a calculated risk in publishing this letter. Those editors knew darn well, you know, as Mr. Starkie points out, that the Prince will never sue, that he will rise above it.
O'REILLY: Yes, all right. They agree with Dr. Starkie that it's not his style, Charles' style, to be confrontational, right?
SHARP: That's right. That doesn't mean that it wasn't defamation.
O'REILLY: Go ahead. Let the doctor go.
STARKIE: Something else to consider. At the time that Diana wrote that letter, she was involved with an astrologer named Rita Rogers. She and Fergie, whom you quoted earlier on, were getting extensive and very, very intimate detailed future predictions from Rita Rogers. And they were writing the scenarios that were being predicted.
I bet that Paul Burrell has 20 or 30 letters predicting other gruesome things that never took place. It would be very, very interesting to see how many unfulfilled prophesies exist among...
O'REILLY: Yes. Well, no, no, I got to tell you, doctor, I couldn't care less about Princess Diana, her astrologer, or any of this. What I'm concerned with is the increasing, and it's happening here in the United States, happens to me, all right, the increasing irresponsibility of the press, all right, destroying people's character and then walking away as Ms. Whitfield said, well, we'll take the risk. You sue us, we don't care. We'll make it even rougher for you. So now there are no rules. No one's protected about anything. And it's insane.
O’REILLY: All right, I'm going to give you both 30 seconds to wrap it up. Go ahead, Ms. Sharp, go ahead.
SHARP: Well, I almost wish that the Prince would take them to task.
O'REILLY: So do I.
SHARP: Just to teach them a lesson, and as you say, to put a stop to this. "The Daily Mirror" is known to publish scandalous -- it's a tabloid. That's what it is.
O'REILLY: Right, right.
SHARP: It's like a supermarket tabloid.
O'REILLY: Okay, doctor.
SHARP: I wish he would take me to task.
O'REILLY: So do I.
STARKIE: The monarchy, right now, is on the skids. In the next 10 years it might not exist at all. It's very important for Prince Charles and for the queen to handle this maturely, so that they stand above it.
O'REILLY: Okay, so not get down in the dirt.
O'REILLY: With The Daily Mirror. I understand that as well. All right, thank you both. We appreciate it. Very interesting story.
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