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Friday, 1 November, 2002, 23:21 GMT
Royal butler trial collapses
Paul Burrell outside court
Paul Burrell (left) outside court with his solicitor
The trial of Paul Burrell, former butler to the Princess of Wales, has sensationally collapsed after it was revealed he had told the Queen he was keeping some of Diana's possessions.

Mr Burrell was found not guilty of three charges of stealing from the estate of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Prince of Wales and Prince William.

The trial is estimated to have cost at least 1.5m.

Mr Burrell sobbed in the arms of his defence lawyer, Lord Carlile, as the decision was announced.

Later, Mr Burrell left the court saying: "I am thrilled, I am thrilled."


The Queen has come through for me

Paul Burrell

Visibly emotional, he said: "The Queen has come through for me."

Prosecutor William Boyce QC had told the Old Bailey there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction and no further evidence against Mr Burrell would be produced.

Speaking outside the Old Bailey, Mr Burrell's solicitor Andrew Shaw said his client was happy and relieved to be acquitted of all charges, and that the police case had been based on numerous errors.

He said the inquiry had never taken into account that he was the princess's most loyal confidant as well as her servant.

'Credit and dignity'

He said the police had been too quick to press charges after Mr Burrell had made a 39-page statement to them.

Mr Shaw said: "In that statement Mr Burrell had referred to a private audience with the Queen and it was surprising no inquires had been made into this meeting."

"Mr Burrell remains totally loyal to Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Queen, who he served in a personal capacity for 10 years."

Mr Burrell (r) sobbed on the shoulder of his QC Lord Carlile (l)
He added : "It is to his utmost credit and dignity that it was only this week that he instructed his lawyers as to the full terms of the conversation. These terms were confirmed by the Queen this morning."

Buckingham Palace said: "The decision to drop the case against Mr Burrell was entirely a decision for the prosecution.

"As a prosecution statement to the court made clear this morning, the Queen was not briefed on either Mr Burrell's defence case or on the prosecution case against him."

Scotland Yard has disputed the date when officers were first informed of Mr Burrell's meeting with the Queen, saying it was in the defence statement of August 2002 rather than in the 39-page pre-charge statement.

Mr Burrell's father Graham said the outcome had come as a "huge relief" for his family.

"It's been a nightmare," he told the BBC.

Diana's protector

"At one point he was talking about ending it because he couldn't cope. I'm proud of him."

A friend of Diana's, Rosa Monckton, said: "He always acted as a protector in her life and he strongly feels that should continue after her death.

"I do not think he had any idea what was in those boxes.

"They could not have been in more right hands than his."

A spokesman for the Spencer family said their only concern had been that the Princess's private possessions should be returned to them so they could be held for Princes William and Harry.

He said they hoped this would now happen as soon as was practicable.

The former butler, 44, of Farndon, Cheshire, denied stealing 310 items from Diana, Princess of Wales, the Prince of Wales and Prince William.

The jury was not in court for the collapse of the trial, but was expected to be officially told of the developments.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"The curious case is over"
Paul Burrell's solicitor Andrew Shaw
"Mr Burrell remains totally loyal to Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Queen"
Graham Burrell
"I knew my son was innocent"

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