Another Diana-type tragedy looms, warns US

September 27, 2005

The paparazzi are increasingly putting the lives of Hollywood celebrities? at risk, say officials in the US who fear a tragedy similar to the car accident which killed Princess Diana.

William Hodgeman from the Los Angeles District Attorney?s Office told the BBC?s Six O?clock News: ?It is miraculous that we haven?t had a Princess Diana situation here in the US yet. If things keep going the way that they are it seems inevitable that eventually we will have a tragedy.?

Reporting from Beverley Hills, BBC correspondent David Willis said photographers stand accused of being violent and abusive and of forcing celebrities off the road in pursuit of shots, in a world where the demand for celebrity pictures has ?mushroomed? worldwide.

He added: ?Celebrities have finally convinced officials here that things have gone too far. An investigation is underway to see whether any members of the paparazzi can be prosecuted for reckless driving, false imprisonment, even conspiracy.?

Describing the competition for celebrity shots in LA as a ?paparazzi gold rush?, Willis added: ?Over the years those in the spotlight say that the tactics of some of the paparazzi have become increasingly life threatening.?

The report highlighted the case of Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson (pictured) who last month called emergency services claiming that she had hit another car while struggling to evade a swarm of paparazzi.

However, added the BBC, some in the business believe that celebrities have brought such attention on themselves, seeking publicity when it suits them and ?complaining bitterly? when it doesn?t. ?But the warning is clear,? continued Willis, ?Hollywood?s most persistent paparazzi now face going to jail.?

Princess Diana died in the Pont d?Alma tunnel in Paris on 31 August 1997 after leaving the city?s Ritz Hotel, pursued by photographers. A French investigation cleared the paparazzi of being irresponsible and brought an end to formal manslaughter inquiries. The investigation blamed the crash on driver Henri Paul who was found to have been drinking before driving at high speed.

Picture credit: IPC Images

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