Judge says Diana's butler "did not tell the truth"

Tue Apr 1, 2008 12:37pm EDT
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By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - Princess Diana's butler Paul Burrell did not tell the truth at the inquest into her death, the presiding judge told a jury in London on Tuesday.

"All in all, you may think Burrell's behavior has been pretty shabby," Lord Justice Scott Baker told the jury as he concluded the official inquiry into the death of Diana and her lover Dodi al-Fayed in a Paris car crash in 1997.

Burrell, the butler who called himself "Diana's Rock," faced a three-day grilling from lawyers when he appeared at the inquest in January. He was repeatedly asked how much he really knew about secrets he was supposed to have held for Diana.

In February, Scott Baker asked Burrell to return to court to explain discrepancies between his evidence and comments attributed to him in a tabloid newspaper, but he refused.

"It was blindingly obvious wasn't it, that the evidence that he gave in this courtroom was not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," Scott Baker said on Tuesday.

In a scathing reference to Burrell's emotionally charged testimony, he told the jury: "I advise you to proceed with caution especially when and if you are left with the impression that he only told you what he wanted you to hear."

The coroner was summing up to the jury after they had heard from more than 250 witnesses over the past six months in an inquest into Diana's death.

Harrods' owner Mohamed Al-Fayed, Dodi's father, fought a long legal battle to have the inquest heard by a judge and jury. Under British law, an inquest is needed to determine the cause of death when someone dies unnaturally.   Continued...

<p>Princess Diana relaxes on the sand during a visit to the beach on the Caribbean Island of Nevis January 4, 1993. REUTERS/Mark Cardwell</p>