Page last updated at 15:16 GMT, Monday, 17 March 2008

Burrell 'removed ring from Diana'

Princess Diana
The inquest has heard much about an engagement ring for Diana

Former royal butler Paul Burrell claimed he had removed an engagement ring from Princess Diana's body, his former bodyguard has told her inquest.

Michael Faux said Mr Burrell had told him he had taken the ring, with blood on it, from her body, in Paris after her fatal car crash in August 1997.

Mr Faux also said he had seen Mr Burrell burning documents, some with Buckingham Palace letterheads.

Mr Burrell denied he had ever spoken of such a ring or burnt important papers.

BBC News royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said the ring discussed in Monday's evidence could not be the one described throughout the inquest as an engagement ring bought by Dodi Al Fayed, as that ring was on public display at Harrods department store.

The ring Mr Burrell referred to "could only have been a friendship ring, a Bulgari friendship ring," he said.

The jury has heard that Diana had received a gold Bulgari friendship ring from Mr Al Fayed, which she wore on her right hand.

'DNA proof'

Mr Burrell allegedly told Mr Faux about the ring shortly after he persuaded him to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Mr Faux said Mr Burrell had been "upset and virtually crying" when he had initially refused to sign it.

Mr Faux said he had been "led to believe" the ring had been Diana's.

Under questioning from Nicholas Hilliard, for the coroner, Mr Faux told the court: "He said that he took it from the body in Paris."

Mr Hilliard said: "Did he have any way of demonstrating this was hers?"

Mr Faux replied: "Yes, there was still blood on the ring and he could prove it was her by the DNA."

Mr Faux said that he thought it "was not right that he had taken it off her finger", probably in the hospital, and that he felt "disgusted" with him.

I have never told anybody that I have had possession of that ring
Paul Burrell
Former royal butler

Mr Faux also told the inquest that he had seen Mr Burrell burning "one or two" bin liners full of documents in November or December 2002 in the back garden of his house in Cheshire.

The documents had been both typed and hand-written on Buckingham Palace notepaper, including some typed on an old-fashioned typewriter.

Nicholas Witchell said this could refer to lost letters from the Duke of Edinburgh to the princess.

In response to Mr Faux's claims, Mr Burrell said in a statement: "There was no conversation about a ring.

"I have never referred to the Bulgari friendship ring as an engagement ring. This is not my opinion of what the ring was.

"I have never told anybody that I have had possession of that ring. I am not in possession of that ring."

He also denied burning any documents of "significance", and said he had never considered throwing documents over the side of a cruise ship to dispose of them, as suggested by Mr Faux.

Mr Burrell has already appeared at the inquest but has refused to return for more questioning.

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