Duchess of York faces charges over Turkish orphan film
The Duchess made the ITV documentary in 2008
12 January 2012 Last updated at 18:46
A court in Turkey has said it plans to prosecute the Duchess of York for secretly filming orphans in the country for a television documentary.
The Duchess visited the orphanage near Ankara while making a film for the ITV Tonight programme in 2008.
The court plans to accuse her of going “against the law in acquiring footage and violating privacy” of five children.
The Duchess’s spokesman said she would not be commenting.
But the BBC’s royal correspondent Peter Hunt said a source close to the Duchess had expressed surprise at the development.
The source also pointed out that the Turkish authorities tried and failed to bring action in the UK, and that the British government was not involved in the case.
Maximum jail term
The Duchess was, said the source, just trying to run a humanitarian trip and was surprised she was being brought to task when it was ITV that filmed the documentary.
She would face a maximum term of more than 22 years in prison if convicted.
BBC presenter Chris Rogers, who was part of the team with the Duchess of York in Turkey, explains why they filmed undercover
The Duchess wore a disguise to enter the institution and filmed scenes of children tied to their beds and left in cots all day.
At the time, the Turkish government accused her of being involved in a “smudge campaign” when Turkey was trying to get membership of the European Union.
But the Duchess, who also filmed orphanages in Romania for the programme, said she was “apolitical” and had gone purely as a mother, and she was “happy with courage to stand by the film”.
It is unclear why it has taken over three years for charges to be laid, and no trial date has yet been set.