US firm wins right to sue Diana's fund for £14m

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The Independent US

A US company making Diana, Princess of Wales memorabilia was yesterday given the go-ahead to sue the memorial fund which was set up in her name, for £14m.

A US company making Diana, Princess of Wales memorabilia was yesterday given the go-ahead to sue the memorial fund which was set up in her name, for £14m.

A Los Angeles judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence for the company, Franklin Mint, to press ahead with its legal action against the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. He set a date of 5 November for the hearing, to be held in California.

The court case is the latest move in the bitter six-year dispute between the two. Last July, the fund, which is worth £48m, froze all charitable grants, blaming the on-going legal action. While funds remain frozen, about 120 voluntary groups could be affected and up to 500 jobs at the fund and its beneficiaries are under threat.

The saga began in 1998 when the fund first took legal action to try to stop Pennsylvania-based Franklin Mint from selling Diana memorabilia. The action was unsuccessful, landing the fund with costs of £4m. Franklin then decided to counter-sue for £14m ($25m) for malicious prosecution in the original case.

The fund shrugged off the impending legal proceedings, insisting that the action was "groundless and implausible".

Andrew Purkis, chief executive of the fund, said: "We regret the waste of time and the interruption of much-needed humanitarian work among some of the world's most vulnerable people."

Last year, a spokesman for Franklin Mint said the fund had fought a "suicidal" legal action and should be held responsible for "bad behaviour".

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