£10m for Diana investigations

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The Independent Online

British taxpayers will pick up an estimated £10 million bill for investigating claims that Diana, Princess of Wales was murdered.

Yet the millions spent on the long-running inquest which ended today and 2004's Operation Paget investigation into her death may never silence those who believe the Princess's life was taken deliberately.

The initial cost of the inquest, which lasted more than 90 days and heard evidence from around 250 witnesses, is an estimated £3.6 million but this figure is expected to increase as the Ministry of Justice has not yet received all of its invoices.

Other Government departments are also facing substantial legal costs after they were represented at the hearing.

The taxpayer has already paid a reported £3.6 million for the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens's Paget inquiry into allegations of a conspiracy to murder Diana and her lover Dodi Fayed.

Lord Stevens launched his investigation in 2004 at the request of Michael Burgess, the Royal Coroner, who was then overseeing the future Diana inquest.

But in December 2006 the former top policeman published his report, which rejected the murder claims that had been voiced by some, including Dodi's father Mohamed al Fayed.

Inquest officials have already said that £2,885,618 was spent on the central London hearing between July 1, 2007 and February 29 this year.

A further £187,464 was incurred by the Coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker and his predecessor Lady Butler-Sloss up to June 30, 2007.

After February this year the hearing sat for about a month at an estimated cost of more than £550,000, bringing the total inquest cost to date to £3.6 million.

But there are a number of major outstanding invoices, including for the jury's police protection.

Other Government departments with significant bills still to be paid include the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Secret Intelligence Service, who were legally represented at the hearing, as was the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. These legal costs are estimated to be about £1.5 million.

The inquest has paid for a range of services, from providing video conferencing so witnesses could give evidence from countries like Nigeria and Australia to running an outside annex to house the media and public who could not fit into the court room.

Money has also been spent on staff wages, IT services and consultancy fees.

In one case the funds were used to fly an official to Los Angeles in America to collect a tape of a telephone conversation involving Dodi's ex-girlfriend Kelly Fisher.

In the recording she told her former partner: "You even flew me down to St Tropez to sit on a boat while you seduced Diana all day and f***** me all night."