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Friday, 18 October, 2002, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Diana 'was not close to staff'
Paul Burrell
Mr Burrell worked for Diana up until her death
Former royal butler Paul Burrell may not have been as close to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, as he maintained, an Old Bailey Court has heard.

The man Diana dubbed "my rock" allegedly complained that he could earn more money if he went to the US but also suffered insecurities about his position, according to the prosecution.

Mr Burrell, 44, who denies the theft of 300 items belonging to Prince Charles and Prince William, told police he was Diana's closest male confidant and that he knew all her secrets.

But prosecution barrister William Boyce QC said: "There was a closeness but it may not have been entirely as Mr Burrell had described."

'Loaded the car'

Mr Boyce told the jury it would hear from Michael Gibbins, financial controller and head of Diana's household before her death in 1997.

He said Mr Gibbins would tell the court that Diana had a good, but "sometimes unpredictable", relationship with employees and was generous with gifts.

"But staff were not allowed to get too close and their employment could be terminated if that happened," said Mr Boyce.

Mr Burrell with a painting of Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana once described Mr Burrell as "my rock"
Mr Burrell is alleged to have driven to Kensington Palace in the middle of the night, following the death of Diana, and loaded up his car with her possessions.

When questioned by a policeman on duty at the palace, Mr Burrell is said to have told him that he had been asked to discreetly remove items and destroy them.

But Mr Boyce said Diana's sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, disputes that she told him to destroy anything.

Charity clothes

She told police "He should not be at Kensington Palace in the early hours of the morning and should not be removing property in that way," according to the prosecution.

"In her view, Mr Burrell was asked to dispose of clothing worn at the time of death by Diana, the Princess of Wales. But he was not asked to dispose of anything else," said Mr Boyce.

It emerged during the trial that Diana secretly sold some of her designer dresses and other things to second-hand shops for a fraction of their true value.

The court heard that the princess had identity tags removed so no-one would know the clothes had been worn by her.

It means women who buy second-hand clothes could be wearing Diana's dresses without realising it.

The money she gained was used as petty cash for trips to the cinema or for buying magazines.

Her butler Burrell delivered the clothing and returned to collect the money, the court heard.

Shielding princes

The jury was directed to read part of Mr Burrell's statement to themselves, instead of having it read in open court.

They referred to Mr Burrell's own examples of the special relationship he claimed had with Diana and the family strains on her.

The trial judge, Mrs Justice Rafferty, has said that the passages can be read silently by the jury to shield Princes William and Harry.

Prosecution witness Detective Sergeant Roger Milburn of Scotland Yard's Special Inquiry Team said the number of items found at Mr Burrell's home had been "completely unexpected".

It is alleged items including letters, clothing and a "sensitive" piece of jewellery, the nature of which has not been revealed to the court, were found at his Cheshire home.

'Suicidal tendencies'

Police also developed 3,020 photographs from a bag of negatives allegedly found in a carrier bag at Mr Burrell's home.

Det Sgt Milburn said that when they first tried to interview Mr Burrell, his secretary and niece, Louise Cosgrove, said he was displaying "suicidal tendencies", which led to a doctor being called.

Det Sgt Milburn said Mr Burrell's state did not warrant any psychiatric treatment, but he was declared unfit for interview that evening.

The jury has been sent home for the weekend and the trial will resume on Monday.


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