LAWYERS acting for the Royal Family are unlikely to take action against Paul Burrell, the former butler, whose controversial book on Diana, Princess of Wales has shaken Buckingham Palace.
Extracts of confidential letters written by the Duke of Edinburgh to Diana at the height of her marriage crisis which appeared in the Daily Mirror have reportedly upset the Royal Family. However it is understood that Mr Burrell and his publishers may be protected from any action due to a legal loophole.
Yesterday the target of what the Daily Mirror described as the latest "Burrell bombshell" was not the Royal Family, but Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer.
In his book, A Royal Duty, which is being serialised by the newspaper, Mr Burrell reveals details of a private letter written by Earl Spencer in which he accuses her of being mentally ill, manipulative and deceitful.
If Mr Burrell had published the letters in full he could have faced a lawsuit, but if, as it seems, only extracts of letters written by Diana and members of the Royal family are quoted in the book, it would be difficult to take action for breach of copyright. The copyright of letters remains with the person who wrote the correspondence or, in the late Princess’s case, with her estate, primarily her sons Prince William and Prince Harry.
At the apparent request of the Duke of Edinburgh, the palace lawyers Farrer & Co are scrutinising extracts of the book, which is published on Monday. The publisher, Penguin, said the palace requested an advance copy of the book yesterday following stories in the Daily Mirror quoting letters to Diana from the Duke of Edinburgh. A letter to the Princess from the Duke of Edinburgh which was quoted allegedly referred to Charles’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. "I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind leaving you for Camilla," the Duke reportedly told Diana.
Earlier in the week, the publication of a letter in which Diana claimed that someone was plotting to harm her in a car accident, led to calls for a public inquiry. Yesterday, Michael Burgess, the royal family’s coroner, said that he was waiting for the results of other investigations before he began his and noted that some issues were still pending in the French legal system. He said that he it would be up to him to set the timing and scope of an inquest.