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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 18:32 GMT
Is Paul Burrell right to sell his story?
Paul Burrell, former butler to Princess Diana, has heavily criticised Earl Spencer for his behaviour towards his late sister.
In the third part of his story, published in the Daily Mirror, Mr Burrell said the earl behaved "disrespectfully" at Diana's funeral, by removing the Royal Standard from her coffin and replacing it with the Spencer flag, "depriving" her of her royal status.
In his second interview with the Mirror, Mr Burrell had claimed the family had abandoned Diana during her life, only to claim her when she died.
It followed his claim in Wednesday¿s newspaper that he had a three hour meeting at Buckingham Palace in which she told him: "There are powers at work in this country about which we have no knowledge."
The Mirror paid him £300,000 for the story after he was cleared of three charges of stealing from Diana, Princess of Wales, the Prince of Wales and Prince William.
Is Paul Burrell entitled to sell his story? Or should his disclosures stay in the past? Send us your thoughts on the revelations.
This Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I'm totally fed up with this story and all the wild accusations. A pity Burrell cashed in as he did, but no marks to the newspapers - and the BBC - for the endless coverage of something that is hardly front line news unless the media wants it to be.
I'd beg you to leave the Royal Family and Burrell alone.
Good Luck to Paul.
This case should never have come to court. Jealousy and intrigue by some persons forced this into being. I doubt if Paul would have divulged one iota of his trust had he not been forced to. Some bodies wanted him removed and stirred up this mess.
How can one be more disloyal than in this case. It is just shameful. He did it for money and showed that his loyalty was worth £300,000.
All I will add to the very overdone situation is that Diana in her Panorama interview said that she was not going to go away quietly - she had no idea how prophetic those words were.
I think he has every right to tell his story,as long as it is the truth, and I think he deserves every penny he earns!! He suffered enough.
Funny, I have heard nothing of this on the local news, only Iraq/UN, Moscow theatre, etc.
Maybe its not really newsworthy?
But the guy does right to get something out of it, after all it was the 'establishment' that brought this into the public domain.
Mark H, UK
In my opinion, all those in the Royal family and those who work for or are related to Royals should be bound to the same secrecy that solicitors are - client confidentiality.
All families have their arguments. What he has revealed should have remained private to the Spencer family and should not be headline news for gossip hungry members of the public
Paul could have made several times what he was paid if he had told Diana's secrets. He has not betrayed her; everything he has told is either public knowledge or is defending the princess and attacking those who have hurt her. There is no betrayal here.
His self-proclaimed "loyalty" is a joke. If he was truly loyal he would set the record straight because it is the right thing to do - not because he gets to collect a cool quarter million in fees. I find that about as disloyal as it gets - he sold out the Royals when he took the money.
Don Mitchell, Portugal
There are a number of people responsible for bringing this farcical case against one of the few people who genuinely had Diana's best interests at heart. In the absence of an apology from any of them, Paul Burrell is now surely perfectly entitled to "have his say in court" - at the bar of public opinion.
Isn't it a shameful small-minded society we have become, when the goings on of an unemployed butler seems to be more important than the fact that the world might be close to World War III.
A total conspiracy. All very conveniently packaged up and presented to the people. You can bet that conversation never took place. It's an insult to our intelligence.
Yes, it is important the Burrell sells his story so that we get nearer to the truth. Truth is something that seems taboo in this day and age. It is obvious there is a lot of support for Mr. Burrell, from the Queen and the public. It is the behaviour of certain newspapers intent of destroying his reputation now they do not have his 'exclusive story' that beggars belief.
Has anyone thought that, as he's only asked for a fraction of what he might have secured otherwise for this so-called scoop, he might have had to find some way of settling the legal bills and not to profit from all this. The man kept his confidences before this fiasco happened - he's shown enough honour to last a lifetime. He didn't have any choice, so leave him alone to tell his story.
At least he remained discreet up to the point where the truth became less embarrassing than the speculation in the media! You could almost argue he is showing respect by putting the record straight. Almost.
I don't see how his vow to never reveal secrets sits with his talking to the press about anything and everything now. It sounds as though he thought he meant more to the Princess than he really did and simply can't accept the fact that she saw him as just another one of her staff.
The only reason Paul Burrell was able to sell his story, was that people want to read it. Would the Daily Mirror have paid £300,000 if they thought the public would not read what he had to say?
Paul Burrell could quite easily have lived off earnings from after-dinner speeches, he has no need to sell his story simply to pay for his legal costs.
He happily reveals sordid details about Diana to the press regarding her private live after the divorce whilst claiming that he will never betray the late Princess' memory. I would call him less of a 'rock' and more of a 'sponge'.
It would seem that Mr Burrell has acted within the remit of the role with the full backing of the royal establishment. What is more interesting however, is the Queen making cryptic references about shadowy powers that act at the highest level without the general public's (or indeed employees' of the crown) knowledge.
Does she mean security services, establishment stalwarts or people with interests in selling more papers than anyone else? Either way this is indeed a historic statement by our head of state.
I'm disappointed. I had hoped that he would be someone who would not sell his story.
He has the bailiffs coming to repossess his house and everything else. Of course he should sell his story; he has to put his own family first this time. His years of loyalty nearly got him a prison sentence!
I suppose it depends upon exactly what he says. But I would like to pose the questions "Are the media right in offering outrageous sums of money for his story?" and "Are we all right in wanting to read the secrets?"
Paul Burrell's lawyer said on BBC World news that his client had a very bad memory. Obviously the £300,000 has managed to jog it?
Alice Lane, UK
Paul Burrell was accused and made to stand trial not just in court, but also by the general public, through the media. We are all happy to eagerly follow it here ourselves, so we should not criticise when Paul Burrell wishes to use the same route to tell his story
Paul Burrell will no doubt spend the rest of his life profiting from his royal connections. He should have held his head high and walked away quietly. We should all be ashamed for having so much interest in such a trivial matter.
It's funny how Mr Burrell's much heralded discretion with regard to private discussions with the Queen suddenly disappears when six figure sums of money are bandied around.
As the "great British public" we always assume that we have the right to know everything - we don't. A lot of what Paul Burrell is saying is private and confidential and should not have been sold to a tabloid. I don't know anyone who would want their private lives printed for everyone to see. Surely Diana's family deserve the same?
Martin Jones, UK
Of course he should cash in on it... the story is going to be published anyway, and as everyone else connected with Diana has cashed in on her why shouldn't her paid employee get some recompense for his story?
If he hasn't signed any sort of "secrets act" then in a way he can do as he chooses, especially if he feels let down and victimised by certain sections. What is disappointing is that he has gone back on his own word, which in many ways should be more binding to someone than any legal document.
I always find the concept of selling one's story a little suspicious. If Paul Burrell takes this money is he not profiting from the very thing he claims he was trying to protect in the first place?
Yes I do think Paul was right in selling his story and from what I've read so far, I don't think he has divulged anything that wasn't already know about the late Princess. The man has gone through hell these last couple of years, trying to protect Diana and the Royal Family at great expense to himself and his family. He also had to give up a lucrative living with his book/lecture tours/magazine articles etc. I am sure that whatever is printed will not harm the Royal Family in any way - and l am sure Princes William and Harry will understand why Paul has told his side of the story.
Yvonne Kirchgaesser, Germany/UK
He has maintained that he would never be disloyal to the Princess' confidence. He should have stayed true to his word, even if he didn't accept the most fruitful monetary offer for his story. Mr Burrell - I'm disappointed in you!!
I thought that employees of the Royal Family were made to take an oath not to disclose what transpires with the royals and if not they should be made to and not to profit from this. My opinion is that we are now a laughing stock to the rest of the world when it comes to everyday occurrences that we hear and read in the newspapers.
Yes, we all have the right to free speech. But who is actually interested? Evidently the tabloids are.
First, I think we should wait and see what exactly he has said before we all pass judgement on our suppositions of his comments. I don't think even people who know him have the right to comment on what they think he may or may not have said.
He has been treated poorly from the start and maybe his story will put things in proper perspective.
We heard all about how discreet Mr Burrell was, but he has not been slow in cashing in and selling his story to the Mirror newspaper.
June Simpson, UK/USA
The only thing "forgotten" in this sorry episode is the right of British citizens to hear the truth.
I am forced to conclude that there is more going on here than meets the eye. The Prime Minister has suggested that the uniqueness of this case means that it has no long term implications but I disagree. If the course of justice can be "adjusted" by the words or the silence of a monarch on this occasion then it can happen again. I do not believe that our legal system should be in any way influenced by the family requirements (real or imagined) of some privileged figureheads.
Why are people blaming the Queen? Surely it is the police officers involved who are to blame for not pursuing this evidence.
I agree 100 percent with MP Dennis Skinner. Why should there be one law for some and one for another? Neither money or position should make any difference, we should all have to account for our deeds.
If Paul Burrell had the long meeting with the Queen, why did his defence team not ask him what was said during this meeting? If they had done so, this case would never have come to court, surely.
I do not think it is a question of who should pay but one of why trials cost so much. It is clear that for such a figure of £1.5m to have been accrued after such a short trial (even allowing for the false start) there are people making obscene amounts of money from the legal system. It is time that the fees received by people in the legal profession were reviewed and payments set at a far more realistic level.
I thought that one of the key points of the Burrell trial was that he was alleged to have sold on items of Diana's possessions for personal gain. This certainly seems to have been how the police presented the case to the Princes. With this in mind, how could the Queen have foreseen that her audience with Paul Burrell would prove the crucial piece of evidence? The Queen has had a fantastic Jubilee year. It would be a shame if media hysteria and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories were allowed to cast any shadow over this achievement.
The Royal Family were supportive of Paul Burrell before the case was seized upon by the CPS. I think Dennis Skinner is allowing his prejudice to run away with him. There is no reason why the Queen should have to pay anything for this trial.
The Queen speaks and the law falls silent. This is the issue. Time for a new constitution please.
I knew Paul when we worked together at Buckingham Palace and I was pleased to hear that the case fell through. He was always completely discreet and reliable I was certain that he had done nothing wrong and was amazed that the case was even sent to court. Good luck Paul and Maria and hopefully you can put this behind you now.
This was an unimportant case which should never have gone to trial. The only disappointed people are the tabloid media, who have lost a trial by the press victim.
Having basked in the glory of the Jubilee, I feel the Royal Family have been damaged beyond repair. This farce of a trial should never have happened and the only one to come out of this with any dignity is Paul Burrell. I wish him and his family well and admire him for his courage. The Royal Family do not deserve such a dedicated servant.
I think the Queen deserves a medal herself with putting up with the constant whining from the British public about the monarch.
After 50 years of hard work and being nearly 80 years old, you would think they would just let her be.
Bridget Simmonds, England
Even with the perfect clarity of hindsight there is little substance to republicans' whingeing. Paul Burrell himself has said that he didn't realise that his conversation with the Queen could clear him of the charges, so why should the Queen have realised its significance? She is neither a lawyer nor, I suspect, did she have any special knowledge of the case.
And on what date did this meeting between the Queen and Mr Burrell take place?
The Queen has behaved totally irresponsibly here, and has provided a far better argument for reforming or abolishing the monarchy than most republicans ever could. I hope she will at least refund the British taxpayer all the money she has so negligently wasted.
Aren't Paul Burrell and his Defence team the ones to blame for this fiasco? Why did Mr Burrell not make it very clear to his solicitors that he had advised the Queen of his actions and included this in his witness statement? If he did so, it is the legal teams on both sides that are to blame for the enormous expense incurred in taking this to trial and not the Queen.
Did the Queen give her evidence under oath?
There are far more important things for MPs to sort out, rather than go on about this case, or even changing their working hours or improving their pensions! When will they start to deal with the real issues that effect ordinary people such as transport?
I am far more worried about the £400m wasted on legal fees on the Tube PPP than this.
It seems unfair that the Queen is being criticised over her late disclosure of the details of her meeting five years ago with Paul Burrell. A vital piece of information revealed at the trial was that the Royal Family had been misled (and were still being misled) into believing that the police possessed evidence that Paul Burrell was selling possessions of the late Princess of Wales. Selling items is very different from keeping them in safe-keeping. When it emerged at the trial that no such evidence existed the Queen acted with commendable speed and should be congratulated rather that criticised.
I think the most interesting question is, who started this particular "hare" running and why?
Robert A. Abrams, USA
Mr Abrams may know something about US law, but not I fear about that in the UK. Under our outdated constitution the prosecution is in the Crown's name - none other than the Queen herself. If this case has done one good thing it is to bring out into the open the outdated system whereby the Queen can sit completely outside the law of the land.
I need to set Ross from Scotland straight:
How could anyone forget a three-hour conversation of this much relevance to the trial? Oh please.
Before the conspiracy theorists get carried away, how many 75-year-olds remember conversations they had over five years ago? I believe the Queen has met a number of people since then!
Mr Nick Williams states that conspiracy theorists should ask themselves how many 70-odd-year-olds would remember a conversation from five years ago. Oh please! This was not just a chat about the weather. This was the whereabouts of articles belonging to her late daughter-in-law, given to Diana by the Queen's son and grandson. Not your everyday conversation. But I guess we will never know the real story.
The Paul Burrell case epitomises all that is wrong with British public life. The privilege afforded the royals, the conspiratorial nature of the establishment, the media and public obsession with scandal and sensation. What ordinary member of the public would have had a tenth of the police and CPS resources devoted to an alleged theft. The police, legal system, public and media interest was totally out of proportion.
The story of Paul Burrell made number one headline in BBC and CNN. Then came the less important news of earthquake in Italy and shooting in Ramallah etc.
Andrew Turner, UK
My best wishes to Paul Burrell. Heads should roll at the police and CPS for them not looking at the evidence in detail and investigating every possible corner. It's all about results these days, not about proper police work!
Two years of a man's life taken away because of a medieval system. The people at 'the top' need bringing down a few notches.
Why on earth did it ever come to court? Someone must have been "pushing" very hard! And who has to pay the defence costs?
Vernon Vincent, Tenerife
Why does the Queen's knowledge of Paul Burrell holding items, of itself, mean that no crime has been committed? The Queen is not Diana's next of kin or executor of her will, so why does her knowledge of Paul Burrell's actions make a difference one way or the other?
Where was the Queen during the past two years? Were we about to hear some embarrassing testimony about the Royals? Also, where was Tony Blair who, advises the Queen daily?
What a loyal, honourable and splendid fellow. Thank God, common sense and justice prevailed in the end, better late than never.
Peter Riley, England
Since it seems Paul Burrell was wrongly accused, who pays for his defence? It would be a travesty of justice if he has to pay his own legal fees. The police and the prosecution should pay.
Paul Burrell has been proven to be thoroughly honest and totally discreet.
How can he be recompensed for all the trauma he has gone through? Who is going to pay his defence costs? It shouldn't be him.
His reward should be to be given an enhanced job in the Royal Family, possibly connected to Prince William as a reward for his tested loyalty.
As a recently retired Criminal Justice Unit (CJU) detective sergeant, I find it incredible that this case got past the relevant CJU quality controller. My job was to read every case submitted on my division, identify loop holes, then liaise with the officer in the case, (OIC), and the CPS lawyer to see, if necessary, what further evidence was required to prevent a judge ordered acquittal and make the case more likely to succeed than fail. So what went wrong here?
Beth Dalgleish, England
Once again we see people complaining 'because taxpayers' money has been wasted'. Ironically, they would also be the first to complain if someone were put straight in jail, without ever going to court. Justice is as much about convicting criminals as it is about finding them innocent, and taxpayers' money has to pay for both!
Mr Burrell has acted with the utmost discretion to all of the Royal Family and I am so pleased that this farcical trial has been stopped. What on earth were the police doing not following up statements?
Yes, another waste of taxpayers' money. The only people who win in the end are the barristers and lawyers in this case.
This time the butler didn't do it!
I am so happy that this ordeal is over for Mr Burrell. I had the opportunity to meet him three years ago when he was promoting his book. The way he talked about Princess Diana I knew there was no way he could have betrayed her. God bless you and your family, Mr Burrell.
Good luck to Paul. Can we now let Diana rest in peace please!
Good luck to Mr Burrell, I trust he can put all this behind him and get on with his life. I admire his discretion, dignity, professionalism and loyalty. He did nothing to deserve such persecution.
Now for sure, Mr Burrell's book will be the greatest bestseller of the decade. We can now hear the truth about the Princess from someone who really knows and loves her.
I am so happy that this ordeal is over for Mr Burrell. I had the opportunity to meet Mr Burrell three years ago when he was promoting his book. The way he talked about Princess Diana I knew there was no way he could have betrayed her. Finally someone in her life that has not let her down in any way.
I am thrilled that Mr Burrell was acquitted. I believe that he was loyal to Diana and he did not steal from her. He had many opportunities to sell his Diana experiences to the press which he did not do.
Chris Townsend, Herts, UK
Congratulations to Paul Burrell. It is good to see a man of noted trustworthiness and dignity prevail. It proves that if you stand your ground steadfastly, and resist the urge to blab to the press, the innocent can survive the glare of publicity despite the speculative reporting of the tabloids.
Alan Gardiner, England
The meeting between the Queen and Burrell was apparently in the defence statement - why was this not checked by the prosecution - the police and the CPS?
Mr Burrell has proven once and for all that he is Diana's rock. His protection of the Princess continues and remains admirable. I just wish that everyone else in the world can respect the Princess as he has. We all need loyal friends like Mr Burrell. Thank you, Your Majesty for saving this man from the indignity that others wanted.
John Smith, UK
Good man! I think it was right for the
police to pursue but I am very pleased
that this is the result.
Congratulations to Paul Burrell! I am delighted that this farce of a trial has collapsed, as it was apparent from the outset that this man does not have a criminal bone in his body. He deserves respect for maintaining his loyalty and discretion in the face of enormous pressure.
I am absolutely appalled by the news time devoted to this case. This was never a headline making story, but yet again, the cult of celebrity overrides REAL NEWS. There are much more important stories, nationally and internationally, that need reporting on prime time news.
Loyalty of the highest order by all parties. Mr Burrell risks a prison sentence rather than disclose the contents of a private conversation with HM the Queen. Equally Her Majesty and HRH the Prince of Wales take steps to ensure justice is done and that one of their staff is not left to fend for himself.
Interesting that the legal profession does not understand loyalty.
Someone clearly didn't want any more dirty washing out in public. In Henry VIII's time I think a few people might of lost their heads over this!
If the Queen knew, why didn't someone just say this at the outset? Then we wouldn't have had to be subjected to this complete farce of a trial.
I'm delighted that events have turned out as they have, and admire Paul Burrell for his discretion in refraining from disclosing the detail of his private conversation with the Queen. Her Majesty deserves credit for preventing a potential miscarriage of justice from occurring.
What a glorious irony - the man who was and remains 100% loyal to the Princess of Wales is the one who ends up in the dock of the Old Bailey.
If it were not so tragic for this man it would be laughable.
This immensely increases my respect for the Queen. She could have let him go to jail and nobody would have been the wiser.
'Man didn't commit crime', what a headline. The whole thing is just more irrelevant drivel occupying the empty heads of our celebrity obsessed journos,
Without knowing all the facts, it looks as though a bundle of public money would have been saved had the prosecution approached the case with more care and balance.
We need trials televised like in the USA - none of this keeping evidence secret. The truth will out - but probably in a book in 10 years time.
Anyone with any sense could see that if the items had been "stolen", they would have been sold for gain, which was not the case. Paul Burrell has never sought to profit from his association with Diana.
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