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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 October, 2003, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Diana coroner 'waiting' to set date
Diana Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed
Diana died in a car accident with Dodi Al Fayed and a chauffeur
The Royal Coroner says he is not yet able to fix a date for an inquest into the death Diana, Princess of Wales.

Michael Burgess, who is also the Surrey coroner, announced in August he would conduct an inquest into the princess' death and the death of her companion Dodi Al Fayed.

Diana's former butler Paul Burrell has revealed alleged letters from her saying that she feared for her life about 10 months before the 1997 fatal car crash in a Paris tunnel.

The French inquiry in 1999 blamed French chauffeur Henri Paul, who also died, concluding he had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs and had been driving too fast.

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

French proceedings

"The inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, has not yet been held because the various investigations being made on my behalf have not so far been concluded," Mr Burgess said on Wednesday.

He said that he wanted to "take into account of the findings of the investigations and proceedings in France" but understood that "some of these matters are still before the French courts."

It was his responsibility to decide on the scope of the investigations, the witnesses to be called, when to hold the inquest and "the practical arrangements for the public hearing".

"I am not yet in a position to make final decisions on any of these matters, but aim to do so as soon as I can."


Meanwhile, Buckingham Palace's lawyers are examining Mr Burrell's book containing details of alleged letters between the Duke of Edinburgh and Diana.

Paul Burrell

It is understood that officials at Buckingham Palace have spoken with their legal advisers to see if the law of copyright has been breached.

The palace would view the correspondence as private as they were not bequeathed to Mr Burrell.

They were allegedly written in 1992 at the time Diana's marriage to Prince Charles was disintegrating.

The copyright of letters remains with the person who wrote the correspondence or, in the late princess's case, with her estate, primarily her sons Prince William and Prince Harry.

But if only one or two quotations are taken from a letter and are represented fairly with due acknowledgement, the complicated law of confidential information, as well as the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988, may be circumvented.

No public inquiry

Downing Street said there would be no public inquiry into Princess Diana's death.

The prime minister's official spokesman rejected calls for an inquiry by Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi's father.

"Everybody knows there has been an exhaustive investigation by the French authorities into the circumstances surrounding Diana's death," the prime minister's spokesman said on Tuesday.

"There will be nothing to be gained from repeating that here.

"But clearly there will be a routine coroner's inquest in Britain once the French legal processes are completed."

Royal butler returns to UK
16 Nov 02  |  UK News

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