LONDON (Reuters) - The coroner at the inquest into the death of Britain’s Princess Diana in a car crash said on Monday there was no evidence that Queen Elizabeth’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, had “ordered Diana’s execution”.
Diana died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 along with Dodi al-Fayed, whose father Mohamed al-Fayed has accused Prince Philip, Diana’s father-in-law, of being behind her death.
But after almost six months listening to more than 250 witnesses, Lord Justice Scott Baker told the jury in his summing up: “There is no evidence that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered Diana’s execution and there is no evidence that the security intelligence service or any other government agency organized it.”
The inquest was delayed for 10 years because Britain had to wait for the French legal process and then a British police investigation to run their course before it could begin.
Both police inquiries decided it was a tragic accident because chauffeur Henri Paul was drunk and driving too fast.
The judge said he had decided not to call Prince Philip as a witness because the evidence “provided no basis whatsoever in suggesting that he was involved in killing his daughter-in-law.”
Fayed has repeatedly alleged that Dodi and Diana were killed by British security services on the orders of Prince Philip because the royal family did not want the mother of the future king having a child with his son.
Scott Baker set out the possible verdicts the jury could reach, but stressed: “It is not open to you to find that Diana and Dodi were unlawfully killed in a staged accident.”
He said possible verdicts included unlawful killing through gross negligence either by Henri Paul, by the paparazzi pursuing the princess’ car, or by both.
Other possibilities were accidental death, or an open verdict if the 11-member jury felt there was insufficient evidence to support any substantive verdict.
“Whatever you may think about motives or alleged hostility to Diana, they cannot be used to prove that something untoward happened that night in Paris,” the judge said.
Scott Baker told the jury that certain witnesses at the inquest had not told the truth.
“One of the regrettable features of this case is the number of people who have told lies in the witness box or elsewhere,” he said. He specifically named Diana’s butler Paul Burrell, whose three days of testimony was described by lawyers as being “all over the place”.
Fayed had told the court that Dodi and Diana rang him up just one hour before the fatal crash to say they were engaged and she was pregnant.
“The issue fairly and squarely raises Mohamed al-Fayed’s credibility. Is he a man on whose word you can rely?,” Scott Baker said. “His beliefs may be genuine... but there is no doubt that many of them have no support in evidence at all,” he added.
For full coverage of the inquest visit
Writing by Kate Kelland; Editing by Diana Abdallah