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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 11:57 GMT
Q&A: Second butler trial collapse
The case against royal butler Harold Brown, accused of stealing from the estate of Princess Diana, has collapsed.

BBC News Online explains why the second theft trial of a royal servant in just over a month has come apart.

Q: What was the case against Mr Brown?

Harold Brown had been accused of stealing three items worth several thousand pounds from Diana's estate.

It was alleged he stole an ornate model Arabian sailing vessel known as a dhow, a bangle and pair of earrings, and a diamond daffodil motif.

Society jeweller Jan Havlik was accused of dishonestly handling stolen goods. The case against him was also dropped.

Q: What was Mr Brown's defence?

Harold Brown made a number of statements to the police but in one of them he said he had been authorised by Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, to sell this Arabian dhow.

Q: Is the case linked to the collapse of the Burrell trial?

The prosecution case was to be that Mr Burrell did not have the authority to dispose of Diana's property, and was not a credible witness.

The conversation which led to the collapse of the Burrell case has now led to the collapse of this case

But when it emerged during his trial that Mr Burrell had had a conversation with the Queen in which he had told her he was keeping some of Diana's possessions, Mr Burrell's credibility was restored.

So the conversation which led to the collapse of the Burrell case has now led to the collapse of this case.

The prosecution said on Tuesday that in the light of the Burrell trial collapse, it would "offer no evidence".

Will this impact the internal Royal inquiry into the disposal of gifts?

The issue of what happens to gifts given to the Royal family will form an important part of the internal Palace inquiry into the events surrounding the Paul Burrell case.

In the case of Mr Brown, prosecution barrister William Boyce QC, had intended to argue that the Prince of Wales only ever gave small items such as bottles of champagne as presents.

The implication is that the Prince of Wales was authorising that various things be given away

But the defence made it clear they would have rebutted this.

They said they had seen an envelope, on which was a note written by the Prince of Wales in which he said: 'there is a very good gold wedding ring in here which someone in the office might find useful'.

The implication is that the Prince of Wales authorised that various things be given away.

See also:

03 Dec 02 | UK
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