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U.S. firm wins right to sue Princess Diana memorial fund

A judge has given the green light to an American firm to sue a memorial fund for the late Princess Diana over its attempt to stop the firm selling Diana trinkets.
PRINCESS DIANA
The late Princess Diana, in a file photo from 1995Mark Lennihan / AP file
/ Source: Reuters

A judge has given the green light to an American firm to sue a memorial fund dedicated to the late Princess Diana over its attempt to stop the firm selling Diana trinkets such as dolls and plates.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund said on Saturday a U.S. judge had decided at a preliminary hearing that there were disputed facts in the case and that it would go forward to trial by jury in California on Nov. 5.

Privately held Pennsylvania firm Franklin Mint Co. launched a multi-million dollar counter-suit in 2002 against the fund after it tried, but failed, to stop it using Diana’s name and image on souvenirs sold in the United States.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund said it was glad a date had been set for the trial.

“Our main feeling is that at last the period of waiting is going to be over and that’s really what has been damaging and holding up the vital humanitarian work,” the fund’s chief executive, Andrew Purkis, said.

“We had money earmarked for people with HIV, AIDS and cancers and landmine victims and all the rest and we can’t get the money through to the people who need it because of what we think is a rather groundless lawsuit," he said.

The fund was first set up to channel $34 million worth of gifts, donated during the outpouring of grief after Diana’s death in a Paris car crash in 1997, into humanitarian projects.

It stopped giving grants to projects last year as part of its fight against Franklin but said it had secured replacement funding so no project collapsed.

The fund gives money to scores of Diana’s favorite projects in Britain and around the developing world for the young, AIDS sufferers, the homeless and landmine victims.

Franklin Mint has said it will give any damages it receives from the case to charities supported by the fund.