French authorities not to pressurise paparazzi to testify at Di inquest

November 14th, 2007 - 8:13 am ICT by admin  
Lord Justice Scott Baker, who is serving as coroner, told the jury and lawyers on Oct 30 that while some photographers have already testified at the London hearing, a high-level decision had been taken in France not to force all the paparazzi to give video-link evidence, despite previous assurances.

French authorities had made the decision after expressing concerns about the aggressive nature of cross-examination at the London court, he added.

Some of the paparazzi present on the night of the crash, August 31, 1997, could not be traced, but at least six of those whose whereabouts were known had not been issued with summonses, the court was told.

“I was certainly under the impression, at least until the end of last week, that … the witnesses would, at the very least, be required to come to court,” the Telegraph quoted Lord Justice Baker, as saying.

“But it does appear that there has been a change in position by the French authorities taken at a very high level and it seems to me that we are controlled not by what you may or may not believe to be the position in the French law but what the French are actually prepared to do,” he added.

Under British law, a coroner has no powers to coerce foreign witnesses to give evidence but Baker said he had been advised that once the French authorities had received a request, witnesses could be obliged to testify.

However he said, “That’s not going to happen.”

He said the decision appeared to have been a “political” one taken within the office of a French government minister.

Diana, her lover Dodi Fayed and their chauffeur Henri Paul were all killed in the crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel as they tried to escape photographers pursuing them from the Ritz hotel in central Paris. (ANI)

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