Judge slams Diana inquest rules as antiquated rubbish

November 17th, 2007 - 4:04 pm ICT by admin  

London, Nov 17 (ANI): A High Court judge has criticised the laws governing the inquest into the death Princess Diana, describing them as “antiquated rubbish”.

Lord Justice Thomas said that the 1984 Coroners’ Rules were “hopeless”, “lamentable” and “wholly improper for the modern age”, and demanded “someone should be politically answerable for this”.

The condemnation came during a legal challenge to a key decision taken by coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker, reports the Daily Mail.

The judge was hearing a legal challenge to a decision made by Lord Justice Scott Baker, the coroner at the Diana inquest, which would allow written statements from witnesses who have refused to attend the inquest to be read to the jury.

Lawyers representing the families of Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul, who both died in the crash in August 1997, have objected to the written statements being submitted.

Richard Keen, QC, appearing for the Paul family, said that the problem with the paparazzi could also have a knock-on effect on other overseas witnesses in the case.

Among them, he suggested, could be Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell, who lives in the U.S., and ex-spy Richard Tomlinson, whom Dodis father Mohamed Al Fayed wants to call as a witness, to support his claim that the Princess was murdered by MI6.

Michael Beloff QC, counsel for the Ritz Hotel, which employed Paul, said this meant the coroner’s decision to allow statements made to the police by paparazzi who have refused to testify at the inquest was “contrary to law”.

Although the paparazzi have refused to appear at the inquest, the coroner has no power to compel them to attend.

Lord Justice Thomas asked: “Who is responsible for this lamentable state of affairs? How can you allow a major inquest to take place against a background of rules wholly improper for the modern age?

“There must be some minister responsible for this terrible state of affairs.”

Beloff said the application for judicial review involved the proper construction of the 1984 Coroners Rules and had important implications for the proper functioning of the inquest system generally.

Lord Justice Thomas said: “It is shocking actually. No doubt everyone agrees this rule is hopeless. It is lamentable this has come about.” (ANI)

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