Alexandra Pettifer, previously known as Tiggy Legge-Bourke, appeared at the High Court in London for a public apology from the broadcaster over “fabricated” allegations she had had an affair with the Prince of Wales while working as Charles’s personal assistant in 1995.
Her solicitor Louise Prince told the court the allegations caused “serious personal consequences for all concerned”.
As well as the allegation of the affair, the court was told Ms Legge-Bourke was falsely accused of becoming pregnant with Charles’s baby and having an abortion.
Ms Prince said Ms Legge-Bourke had not known the source of the allegations over the past 25 years, but that it was now likely the “false and malicious allegations arose as a result and in the context of BBC Panorama’s efforts to procure an exclusive interview with Diana, Princess of Wales”.
The court was told the Dyson Investigation, commissioned by the broadcaster, had “shed some light” on how the interview had been secured.
The solicitor said the “totally unfounded” allegations “appeared to exploit some prior false speculation in the media” about Charles and Ms Legge-Bourke, whose duties at the time involved looking after William and his brother Harry, the Duke of Sussex.
“After Diana, Princess of Wales, became aware of the allegations in late 1995, she became upset with the claimant without apparent justification,” she added.
Ms Prince said Ms Legge-Bourke “holds the BBC liable for the serious impact the false and malicious allegations have had”.
“Had the BBC not fallen short, the claimant and her family could have been spared 25 years of lies, suspicion and upset,” she said.
After the hearing, BBC director-general Tim Davie said the broadcaster would “never show the programme again” nor licence it to other broadcasters, apologising to Ms Legge-Bourke, Charles, William and Harry for how Diana was “deceived”.
At Thursday’s short hearing, judge Mr Justice Nicklin heard that in September 1995, Earl Spencer – Diana’s brother – was told Charles was in love with Ms Legge-Bourke and they had been on a secret holiday together.
The court was also told that in October 1995, the BBC was at a “critical stage” in negotiations with Diana over her appearance on BBC Panorama, at the same time she told her solicitor Ms Legge-Bourke had had an abortion.
Ms Prince continued: “In October 1995, Diana, Princess of Wales, wrote of allegations that she may fall victim to an accident, in order for HRH the Prince of Wales to marry the claimant.”
In December 1995, Diana publicly confronted Ms Legge-Bourke with the abortion allegation, before telling a senior member of the royal household she had a hospital letter proving the abortion happened.
Ms Prince said: “As the allegation of an abortion was totally false, any such letter could only have been fabricated.”
She continued: “The claimant was extremely upset and confused by these events.
“She felt she had to prove to others that the allegations were completely untrue by revealing highly sensitive matters, including private medical information.
“Sadly Diana, Princess of Wales could not be convinced.”
A spokesman for the Duke of Cambridge declined to comment.