Court charges Duchess of York

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ND FERGUSON REUTERS Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Files

A court in Turkey has charged Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, for her secret filming of orphanages in the country for a TV documentary in 2008, the Press Association reported Thursday.

Ferguson, the former wife of Britain's Prince Andrew, was accused in absentia of going “against the law in acquiring footage and violating privacy” of five children.

She faces a jail sentence if convicted. No trial date has been set, said the British agency. The BBC reported that she could face a maximum term of more than 22 years in prison if convicted.

It was not clear why it took more than three years to file charges against her, said the BBC.

The duchess, who divorced Prince Andrew in 1996, but retains cordial relations with him, made the undercover trip to Turkey with her daughter, Eugenie, to film orphanages for a British commercial TV programme.

She filmed images that appeared to show children tied to their beds or left in cots all day in an orphanage near the capital, Ankara.

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”. - Sapa-dpa

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