Burrell asked to return to Diana inquest after admitting 'red herrings'
Saturday 23 February 2008
Paul Burrell, former butler to Diana Prince of Wales and the man she once called "my rock", has been asked to come back to Britain to give more evidence to her inquest yesterday after newspaper allegations that he misled the jury with a series of "red herrings".
The decision by the coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker, was announced in a statement published on the website for the hearing, which is about to enter its 75th day of evidence at the High Court in London next week.
The statement said: "The coroner has asked Mr Burrell to return to court to explain discrepancies between the evidence he gave to the inquest and the material which is contained in the transcripts of the recording taken by The Sun newspaper."
The announcement comes after the release of a secretly filmed video of Mr Burrell, in which he appears to imply he withheld evidence from the inquiry – claims that he strenuously denies. His solicitors insisted he had not perjured himself but was a victim of "entrapment" by the newspaper and that the former royal aide had "been drinking all evening, was tired and depressed" when it was shot in New York.
In it, he tells a friend: "I was very naughty and I made a couple of red herrings and I know I couldn't help doing it. I know you shouldn't play with justice and I know it's illegal and I realise how serious it is."
Mr Burrell, now living in Florida where he runs a merchandise brand company, adds: "Maybe I didn't tell the whole truth. Who was it to protect? My own integrity. Do you honestly think I've told everything I know? Of course I haven't."
The Sun links Mr Burrell's comments to the conversation he claims to have had with the Queen after the Princess and Dodi Fayed's death, in which he claimed the monarch told him that "dark forces" were at play in Britain.
Mohamed Al Fayed brandished a copy of the newspaper during his extraordinary evidence to the inquest this week, demanding that Mr Burrell should be asked to come back to court and explain himself. Lord Justice Scott Baker immediately ordered an investigation and demanded to see the whole tape.
Mr Burrell's solicitors issued a statement earlier in the day defending their client, insisting he had "held nothing back."
It said that their client had been set up: "While under cross-examination, Paul Burrell's evidence may at times have strayed from the strictly relevant, he told no untruths and was not in contempt of court. Indeed, he tried to assist the court so far as he was able."
It added: "The Sun coverage is incomplete, and the result of entrapment. At the time of the secretly recorded conversation described (in part) in the paper, he was showing a degree of exaggeration – showing off. He is not proud of this – but was in private, not in court, not on oath.
"He was led on by an insidious form of questioning by a person with extensive media experience.
"He was set up and took the bait. He understands that he is a likely victim for such journalism but was off guard in the conversation in the early hours."
The Sun newspaper welcomed the coroner's decision.
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