Robert Verkaik: Why verdict will not silence the conspiracy theorists

Share
Related Topics

Those hoping that the jury's verdicts on the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed would silence the conspiracy theorists will be disappointed.

History shows that the legal process is inadequately equipped and was never designed to answer allegations based on rumour, hearsay or speculation.

Mohamed Al Fayed's central accusation – that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered the murder of his son and Princess Diana – may have been completely demolished under the strict rules of evidence but there are plenty of questions arising out of the inquiry to keep the conspiracy alive.

Mr Al Fayed will no doubt make a great deal of the coroner's decision to refuse to call Prince Philip as a witness and to withdraw from the jury the opportunity to find that Diana and Dodi were unlawfully killed in a plot organised by the Royal Family. Under the coroner's rules, Lord Justice Scott Baker had a duty in law to dismiss such a possibility if he decided the evidence could not support that verdict.

But conspiracy theorists are no respecters of the finer points of law and will use the coroner's intervention as justification for adding his name to the now long list of establishment figures who it is alleged have tried to cover up the truth. However, it was Lord Justice Scott Baker himself who during his summing up to the jury highlighted the inquest's shortcomings.

He regretted, for example, that the inquest did not have the power to compel some of the French witnesses to attend the court. In particular he said he was disappointed that the French authorities did not intervene to force the paparazzi to testify and it was a "great pity" that some of the French medical experts had not given direct testimony to the court.

It emerged halfway through the inquest that the decision had been taken not to compel witnesses to give evidence, prompting Michael Mansfield QC, for Mr Al Fayed, to call on Jack Straw to make representations to France on the issue.

Lord Justice Scott Baker was one of the first to recognise that the inquest would not bring closure to the debate. He told the jury in his summing up: "There are no doubt those who genuinely believe this to be the case and will continue to do so regardless of any verdict you return."

He could have gone further by pointing out that, 45 years after the assassination of President John Kennedy, a series of inquiries and court cases have emphatically failed to extinguish the conspiracy theories surrounding his death.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Queen spoke of respect for all cultures and faiths in her Christmas message  

Decoding the Queen's speech: Was Her Majesty taking a swipe at Ukip?

Jane Merrick
Iraqi soldiers trained by the US were routed by IS’s smaller force  

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

Patrick Cockburn
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015