Page last updated at 09:33 GMT, Wednesday, 2 April 2008 10:33 UK

Diana's butler 'obviously' lied

Paul Burrell
Ex-royal butler Paul Burrell appeared at the inquest in January

The coroner at the Princess Diana inquest has said it is "blindingly obvious" that her former butler, Paul Burrell, lied at its hearings.

Lord Justice Scott Baker told the jury that the evidence Mr Burrell gave was clearly "not the whole truth".

However, he said all of his testimony could not be discounted and asked the jury to "proceed with caution".

Mr Burrell has refused to return to the inquest to explain discrepancies that have arisen from his evidence.

He currently lives in the US - outside the jurisdiction of English courts and cannot be compelled to return to the inquest.

After his appearances at the London court in January, Mr Burrell was filmed in the US saying he had not told the truth. British papers published his comments in full.

I advise you to proceed with caution especially if you are left with the impression that he only told you what he wanted you to hear
Lord Justice Scott Baker

When the coroner asked him to return, his lawyers said that he did not "conceal" anything relevant or tell "untruths" during his evidence.

Beginning his second day of summing up, Lord Justice Scott Baker said: "You have heard him in the witness box and, even without what he said subsequently in the hotel room in New York, it was blindingly obvious that the evidence that he gave in this court was not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

Lord Justice Scott Baker suggested to the jury that Mr Burrell, an author and reality television participant, may have given evidence while thinking that "whatever he said might have an impact on his future enterprises".

Mr Burrell worked for Diana from 1992 and described himself as "Diana's rock" - but Lord Justice Scott Baker reminded the jury that he had been called "quite a porous rock" given that many of the princess' secrets were made public.

A lawyer for the parents of driver Henri Paul had described Mr Burrell as such during his three days at the inquest.

Paul Burrell and Princess Diana
Diana's landmine involvement was dismissed as a motive for killing her

On Tuesday the coroner said: "I advise you to proceed with caution especially if you are left with the impression that he only told you what he wanted you to hear.

"On the other hand he was close to Diana and was particularly well-placed to hear information that others were not.

"The fact that he has not told you the truth on some occasions does not mean you cannot accept anything he has told you. But you should proceed with caution."

Lord Justice Scott Baker also cast doubt on Mr Burrell's conversation with the Queen several months after the August 1997 crash, which killed Diana, her companion Dodi Al Fayed and Mr Paul.

Mr Burrell had claimed that the Queen told him "there are powers at work in this country of which we have no knowledge".

The coroner told the jury that, assuming the words were said, it "stretches one's imagination to breaking point" to conclude they had anything to "do with a staged collision in a tunnel three and a half months before".

'Shabby behaviour'

He said Mr Burrell had made copies of Diana's correspondence to him as well as letters from the Duke of Edinburgh to Diana without permission from the authors.

"All in all, you may think that Mr Burrell's behaviour has been pretty shabby.

"But beyond the extent to which it reflects his honesty, on whether other matters are true you may think this - it has no impact on the means by which those came their death," said the coroner.

He also dismissed suggestions that Diana's involvement in anti-land mine campaigns was a motive for killing her.

"You may think even if her support was an embarrassment, any connection between this and her death is a bridge too far."

French e-mail

Lord Justice Scott Baker briefly stopped his summing-up after receiving an e-mail in French about a possible sample from the body of Mr Paul.

Tests on blood and other samples from Mr Paul showed he had been three times over the French drink-drive limit, but lawyers for Mohamed Al Fayed have questioned whether the samples were actually from Mr Paul.

Resuming after getting the e-mail translated, Lord Justice Scott Baker said: "I'm happy to say the problem has been resolved and there's nothing to be worried about and we can proceed."

The coroner had previously outlined five options for a verdict, including unlawful killing either through the gross negligence of the driver, Henri Paul, the gross negligence of the paparazzi in the vehicles following the princess, or the gross negligence of both Mr Paul and the photographers.

In his summary he said the jury had to consider the role alcohol had played in the crash, with conflicting evidence about Mr Paul's sobriety given at the inquest.




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