Fayed challenges 'secret' Diana inquest

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The Independent Online

Plans for private inquest hearings into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, have been attacked as a cover-up by Mohammed Al Fayed, who says he will be seeking a judicial review.

The owner of Harrods, whose son, Dodi, died with the Princess in a car crash in Paris in 1997, said he would oppose all moves to hold the inquest in camera.

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the former senior judge who is due to hear the inquests, has yet to confirm how the hearings will be conducted. Mr Al Fayed claimed yesterday that Lady Butler-Sloss had "taken her first step towards ensuring that the cover-up continues".

He added: "A jury of 12 ordinary people should hear all the facts and make up their own minds. For that reason, I have instructed my legal team to seek judicial review to compel Dame Butler-Sloss to hold all hearings in public."

For years, the Egyptian businessman has accused the British establishment of carrying out a plot to murder Diana and his son, possibly as a result of their relationship and any plans they might have had for marriage.

The Metropolitan Police inquiry into the death of the Princess will be published in two weeks' time, it was reported yesterday. Lord Stevens' investigation - known as Operation Paget - has taken three years to complete. The former chief of the Met was asked to undertake the case when the inquest into Diana's death opened and adjourned in January 2004. According to the BBC, the results will be made public on 14 December - the day before Prince William graduates from Sandhurst.

Lord Stevens is widely expected to conclude in his report that the death of the Princess was accidental.