Leading article: Proceedings without a point

Share
Related Topics

Once upon a time, there might have been a strong argument for an inquest to be held into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The circumstances of her fatal car crash in Paris needed clarification. The father of her dead companion, Dodi Fayed, was convinced they had both been victims of a plot. Among the public at large, conspiracy theories abounded. There was a widespread feeling that crucial information had been deliberately concealed.

With the three-day questioning of the Princess's former butler, Paul Burrell, the inquest – held before a jury and in public – has probably reached the heights, and plumbed the depths, of what it could achieve. Mr Burrell has made a second career out of the royal confidences he shared. The substance of many of them has now, to put it mildly, been challenged.

More than 10 years have passed since Diana's death. It transpires that many witnesses were not questioned at the time. The testimony of others has been lost. The French authorities made known that they would not compel French witnesses to appear. Even now, despite the mass of detail being placed in the public domain, the actual evidence is partial and unsatisfactory.

The proceedings are, we have to concede, at times scandalous and at times entertaining in a tawdry way. Much dirty linen – royal and common – has been washed in public. Some new information has emerged, most recently the detail that the Princess's fears about a car crash were not passed to French investigators by British police after the accident, even though they possessed a note from her solicitor.

If the purpose of an inquest such as this is to determine when, where and how certain individuals died – which it is – then it is difficult to see how these proceedings justify the vast amount of time and money they have entailed. The mostly empty public gallery and marquee suggest that even the most sceptical members of the public understand this. The clamour to know more has subsided.

A decade is a very long time to wait for an inquest on a death that caused such social perturbation at the time. If it had been held when the memories of witnesses to the crash in the Pont d'Alma tunnel had been fresher, then maybe there would have been a point.

After ten years, though, memories are failing and minds are largely made up. The sceptics – and there remain plenty of them – believe what they believe; and there are still details that can be interpreted as suspicious. But these will not be cleared up by an inquest. The longer these proceedings last, the less relevant they seem. This inquest is a sideshow – an elaborate and expensive one, but a sideshow nevertheless.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Recruitment Genius: Plant Fitter - Construction Industry

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Recruitment Genius: Factory Operatives

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer ba...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Bahrainis on an anti-government protest in May  

Hussain Jawad's detainment and torture highlights Britain's shameless stance on Bahraini rights

Emanuel Stoakes
August 1923: Immigrants in a dining hall on Ellis Island, New York.  

This election demonises the weakest

Stefano Hatfield
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003