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Diana coroner says butler, photographer lied

/ Source: The Associated Press

Both Princess Diana's butler and a photographer accused of helping to stage the car crash that killed her lied — but neither is key to discovering how she and boyfriend Dodi Fayed died, a coroner said Tuesday.

Lord Justice Scott Baker, summing up the six-month inquest into their deaths for a second day, said it was "blindingly obvious" that butler Paul Burrell — who was more concerned with exploiting his connection to Diana — "hadn't told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" during three days of testimony.

Baker also said there was strong evidence that James Andanson, a paparazzi photographer who claimed he had been in Paris trailing Diana the night of the crash, had lied about his whereabouts that night. Andanson has since died.

Diana, Fayed and driver Henri Paul died in a Paris car accident in 1997 while trailed by photographers — a crash Fayed's father, Mohamed Al Fayed, claims was part of a plot directed by Queen Elizabeth II's husband, Prince Philip, and carried out by British secret agents.

Fayed had accused Andanson of being a secret agent who helped set up the accident.

However, Baker told jurors on Monday that there is no shred of evidence to implicate the queen's husband, the secret intelligence service or any other government agency in their deaths.

Elusive Fiat
Andanson apparently became identified as a suspect because he was a paparazzi photographer and owned a white Fiat Uno — the same type of car that sideswiped the Mercedes carrying Diana and Fayed in or near the Alma tunnel before their fatal crash.

French police were never able to locate the white Fiat.

Baker said Burrell's testimony appeared to be based in part on prospects for exploiting his connection with the princess. Burrell testified that some three months after the crash, the queen warned him to be careful because there were unidentified forces at work in the country.

Burrell said he thought the queen's meaning was unclear, but took it simply as a friendly warning.

Upon returning to the United States after his testimony, Burrell was captured on camera boasting that he hadn't told whole truth and planted some red herrings in his testimony. He refused to return to explain himself to the inquest.

"All in all, you may think Burrell behaved pretty shabby," Baker said. "But beyond the extent to which it reflects on his honesty on whether other matters are true, you may think it has no impact on the means by which these people came to their deaths."