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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Diana and Dodi inquests announced
Diana Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed
No date has been announced for the inquests
Inquests are to be held into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and her lover Dodi Al Fayed in Paris six years ago, it has been announced.

Surrey Coroner Michael Burgess will conduct both inquests, it was confirmed on Friday.

But a Surrey County Council spokesman said it was "premature" to say when the inquests would take place.

Princess Diana, 36, and Mr Al Fayed, 42, were killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

The inquests will be the first official public hearings in Britain to examine the circumstances surrounding the Princess's death.

They have been delayed by a lengthy police investigation and other factors.

According to British law, an inquest must happen when a body is returned to Britain following a death abroad.

Mr Burgess is also responsible for inquests for the Royal Household but there has been no mention of it being combined at this stage
Coroner's spokesman

The inquests will try to establish the facts of their deaths, but will not apportion blame.

A council spokesman said Mr Burgess was conducting the inquest because Mr Fayed was a Surrey resident, not because he is responsible for inquests for the Royal Household.

Conspiracy theory

On the prospect of a date for Diana's inquest, the Mirror newspaper had quoted a Surrey County Council spokesman as saying: "By early next week we should have a date. It is likely to start sooner rather than later.

But on Friday afternoon a council spokesman said: "In time, as the law requires, there will be inquests into the deaths of both the late Dodi Fayed and Diana, Princess of Wales but it is premature to outline any arrangements or suggest any dates or timescale."

A joint inquest is thought to be highly unlikely.

A council spokesman said: "Mr Burgess is responsible for inquests for the Royal Household but there has been no mention of the two being combined at this stage."

A spokesman for Dodi's father, Mohamed Al Fayed, welcomed to the news which they said Mr Al Fayed had been pressing for six years.

The Harrods owner has argued Diana's death was a conspiracy.

The Prince of Wales's office said it would be cooperating fully with the inquest into Dodi's death

Mr Al Fayed's spokesman said: "If it is the coroner's intention to hold a joint inquest with a jury then Mr Al Fayed would welcome that."

It would be the first inquest into a fatal accident involving a member of the Royal Family to be held since 1972, when Prince William of Gloucester was killed in an air crash.

A lengthy investigation into the accident was carried out by a French judge, but the 6,000-page report was never published.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"Preparations for the Dodi inquest are well underway"



SEE ALSO:
Poignant Paris trip for Charles
06 Feb 03  |  UK News
Diana inquest 'next year'
09 Jun 02  |  UK News


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