'No evidence' of Diana murder plot, say UK coroner - Emirates24|7

'No evidence' of Diana murder plot, say UK coroner


The coroner probing Princess Diana's death said Monday there is no evidence she was killed by British intelligence or that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered her murder, as her boyfriend's father claims.

The assessment by Lord Justice Scott Baker came as he summed up the inquest into the death of Diana and Dodi Fayed, which began in October. In other comments, he branded Diana's ex-butler and two other witnesses liars.

"There is no evidence that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered Diana's execution, and there is no evidence that the secret intelligence service or any other government agency organised it," he said.

Mohamed Al-Fayed, the tycoon owner of London's Harrods department store, believes Diana and his son Dodi were engaged and has claimed Prince Philip was linked to an establishment plot to kill them and stop her marrying a Muslim.

Specifically he has claimed that the prince, husband of Queen Elizabeth II and Diana's former father-in-law, ordered the killing of the couple, who died with chauffeur Henri Paul in a 1997 Paris car crash.

But starting his summary of the inquest, the coroner said many of Al-Fayed's theories were "so demonstrably without foundation" that they were no longer being pursued by his lawyer, "even if he still continues to believe in their truth in his own mind.

"They are not being pursued because there is not a shred of evidence to support them," the coroner said.

Two previous police investigations - one French and one British - have concluded that the couple's death was a tragic accident fuelled by a chauffeur who was over the drink-drive limit speeding to get away from chasing paparazzi.

Since opening on October 2 last year, the inquest into Diana's death has heard some 250 witnesses, while the jurors also travelled to Paris to see the scene of the accident for themselves.

Diana's former butler Paul Burrell was among the most high-profile witnesses to take the stand, while others whose testimony gripped the court include Pakistani surgeon Hasnat Khan, who had a two-year romance with Diana.

In his summing up the judge called Burrell a liar.

"One of the regrettable features of this case is the number of people who it appears have told lies in the witness box or elsewhere," he said, naming Burrell, photographer James Andanson and Al-Fayed security head John Macnamara.

Burrell, who lives in the United States, refused to return to answer claims he lied to the inquest, after a secretly taped conversation published by the Sun daily in which he apparently admitted to not having told the whole truth.

Al-Fayed, who is also owner of the Ritz Hotel in Paris from where Diana and his son took their last doomed car ride, gave evidence in February, calling Prince Philip a "Nazi" and a "racist."

On Monday the coroner appeared to suggest heavily to the jury that they should dismiss the conspiracy theories.

"There are no doubt those who genuinely believe this [the murder theory] to be the case and will continue to do so regardless of any verdict you return," he said.

But he added: "You have heard the evidence and it is your decision that matters and not anyone else's.

"You will have been reassured to have heard that Mohamed Al-Fayed told you on oath that he will accept your verdict, no doubt the other interested persons will do likewise."  (AFP)