updated 9/3/2006 12:49:46 AM ET 2006-09-03T04:49:46

A retired senior judge has been chosen to take over the inquest into the 1997 death of Princess Diana, British media reported Saturday.

The Times newspaper and the British Broadcasting Corp. said Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss would replace royal coroner Michael Burgess, who pulled out of the inquest in July, citing a heavy workload.

Butler-Sloss, former head of the High Court’s family division, refused to comment on the reports.

When he stepped aside, Burgess asked the government to nominate a senior judicial official to take over the inquest into the deaths of Diana and her companion Dodi Fayed.

The inquest is awaiting a report by Lord Stevens, the former head of London’s Metropolitan Police, whom Burgess asked to investigate the Paris car crash that killed the couple and their driver, Henri Paul.

Rumors and conspiracy theories continue to swirl around the crash, despite a French judge’s 1999 ruling that it was an accident. An investigation concluded that Paul had been drinking and was driving at high speed.

Stevens said in January the investigation was “far more complex than any of us thought” but did not specify what he meant.

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