It’s been reported today that the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, could face a prison sentence after a court in Turkey ruled that she had acted, “against the law in acquiring footage and violating privacy” of five children in one of the country’s orphanages.
The incident in question occurred in 2008 when the Duchess traveled to Turkey to make a documentary about the country’s abandoned or orphaned children, however, several scenes – featuring infants and toddlers tied to their beds – were filmed secretly, without the knowledge of staff at the orphanages.
The Daily Mirror reports that it’s not known why it’s taken three years for the country’s officials to decide to prosecute over the filming, which was for ITV and entitled, Duchess and Daughters: Their Secret Mission.
At the time, Ferguson claimed she had no political agenda, and wished only to show the plight of some children overseas. She also filmed in Romanian orphanages.
However, after the film originally aired here in the UK, Turkey’s minister of family affairs, Nimet Cubukcu, said, “It is obvious Sarah Ferguson is ill-intentioned and is trying to launch a smearing campaign against Turkey by opposing Turkey’s EU membership.”
An ITV spokesman said of the film, “This is a valid area of public interest at a time when the UK government is endorsing the accession of Turkey into the EU, a process which is conditional in part on Turkey improving its human rights record with children.”
And Chris Rogers, the presenter and reporter who travelled with the Duchess during filming, added, “Sarah and I witnessed children dressed in rags at Turkey’s Saray Institution, which had 700 unwanted, disabled youngsters shut up within its walls.
“There was a terrible stench of urine, sweat and vomit. We saw children tied to benches like dogs, women with their arms pinned behind their back and covered in faeces.
And in response to news of the pending court proceedings, the Duchess’ spokesman said, “The Duchess of York has fully cooperated at all times with both the Turkish and British authorities at all times on this issue.
“The action today reported by the Turkish authorities is news to all.”
The paper adds that it’s not yet known whether Turkish officials have made a request for her extradition, but a Home Office spokesman said that “as a matter of routine”, the department would not confirm or deny whether extradition requests had been made.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman added, “It is not general UK Government practice to comment on individual judicial processes, although we expect high legal and judicial standards to be observed.
“It would be premature and inappropriate to speculate on possible outcomes at this stage.”
Here’s a clip that reported on the “diplomatic row” that the film had caused…
More news on this as we get it.