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EDITIONS
Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Butler's evidence suppressed
Paul Burrell arrives at court on Thursday
Paul Burrell denies all the charges
The judge presiding over the theft trial of Princess Diana's former butler has ruled that some evidence can be withheld to protect princes William and Harry.

Her decision came in response to complaints from the media that some information had been made available only to the jury.

Mrs Justice Rafferty said the court had to consider the princes' interests as well as those of the former butler, Paul Burrell.

Mr Burrell, 44, denies stealing 284 items which belonged to Princess Diana, Prince Charles, and Prince William.

Mr Burrell with a painting of Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana once described Mr Burrell as "my rock"

His trial at the Old Bailey was dramatically halted on Wednesday after the jury was discharged for legal reasons that cannot be reported. A new jury was sworn in 90 minutes later.

Thursday saw a special hearing at which Jonathan Caplan QC, representing sections of the media, claimed that in dealing with Mr Burrell's statement to police on his arrest, the prosecution had deliberately not read out certain passages.

He said the "principle of open justice clearly requires all the evidence in open court to be read publicly", unless there was a legal exception and reasons were given.

"In opening the case with a statement by Mr Burrell - a very important document in his defence - certain paragraphs were deliberately not read out by the prosecution in open court."

Mr Caplan said it would appear that, perhaps by agreement between counsel, the jury's attention was directed to these paragraphs instead.

'Special relationship'

William Boyce QC, prosecuting, replied that the whole statement had been read out "apart from one small passage".

One of the key themes in the statement was the special relationship which existed between Diana, Princess of Wales and Mr Burrell, he said.

In the statement, Mr Boyce told the court, Mr Burrell had stated he would give examples of the relationship "on the strict understanding" that they would only be used in relation to the investigation into his possession of items belonging to Diana.

Mrs Justice Rafferty said she had "reminded myself of the principle of open justice and the court's duty to balance that principle against the interests of justice, in pursuance of a fair trial".

She added: "The interests of justice in this singular case encompass not only those of Mr Burrell - but also those of two young princes."

Photographs

As the trial resumed following the ruling, in a statement to the court the prosecution went through a list of items that had been found in Mr Burrell's loft.

Items included a box of Stuart crystal, a jewellery box from Korea and china crockery bearing the Prince of Wales's feather monogram.

In addition, the jury were taken through a list of popular and classical music CDs Mr Burrell allegedly stole.

Photographs of the Royal family had also been found in Mr Burrell's possession, the prosecution said.

Among the photographs were snaps of Charles and Diana on holiday with the King of Greece, and a young Prince Harry playing on a vintage fire engine.

Mr Boyce said: "Where should that album be? Should it be anywhere other than with the family? Is there any sensible reason for it not being with them?"

The trial continues.

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16 Aug 01 | UK
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