Diana inquest judge rips into Royal butler Paul Burrell

IT is "blindingly obvious" that Paul Burrell did not tell the truth at the inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Coroner said today.

Lord Justice Scott Baker also tore into the former royal butler, famed as "Diana's rock", for cashing in on her name.

Beginning his second day of summing up, the Coroner told the jury: "You have heard him in the witness box and even without what he said subsequently in the hotel room in New York, it was blindingly obvious wasn't it that the evidence that he gave in this court was not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

Mr Burrell, 49, has refused to return to the central inquest to answer allegations that he lied to the jury.

After giving evidence in January, Mr Burrell was filmed in New York claiming that, despite being under oath, he had not told the whole truth. British newspapers published his remarks in full.

The Coroner, asked him to return and explain himself, but as Mr Burrell now lives mainly in Florida he is outside the jurisdiction of an English court and cannot be compelled to appear.

Mr Burrell alleged in the informally filmed interview that he had not told the full story of what he claimed was a three-hour discussion with the Queen about "dark forces" at work in Britain.

He also said that he had laid "a couple of red herrings".

he coroner slapped a severe health warning on how the jury should treat Mr Burrell's evidence.

A possible "thread" running through his testimony was that "whatever he said might have an impact on his future enterprises", the coroner suggested.

Mr Burrell, a butler-turned reality television star, has built a successful career largely founded on his connections with Diana.

His children grew up with Princes William and Harry after he joined her staff in 1992. Mr Burrell described himself to the jury as the "hub" of the wheel of Diana's confidantes.

Despite being self-styled as "Diana's rock", the coroner reminded the jury that he was "quite a porous rock", considering the number of her secrets that were leaked.

The comment had been made by Richard Keen QC, for that the parents of Henri Paul, during rigorous cross-examination of Mr Burrell.

The coroner yesterday named Mr Burrell among a select group of witnesses who are "liars by their own admission".

In 2002 Mr Burrell was cleared of the theft of scores of Diana's personal treasures – but could still be bitter at having been tried, it is suggested.

The coroner said: "I advise you to proceed with caution especially if you are left with the impression that he only told you what he wanted you to hear.

"On the other hand he was close to Diana and was particularly well-placed to hear information that others were not.

"The fact that he has not told you the truth on some occasions does not mean you cannot accept anything he he has told you but you should proceed with caution."

The coroner commented on a conversation Mr Burrell had with the Queen a number of months after Diana's death in December 1997.

During the chat the former butler has claimed the monarch told him "there are powers at work in this country of which we have no knowledge".

The coroner told the jury that, assuming the words were said, it "stretches one's imagination to breaking point" to conclude they had anything to "do with a staged collision in a tunnel three and a half months before".

Mr Burrell made copies of Diana's correspondence to him and did the same with letters the Duke of Edinburgh wrote to the Princess, without asking the permission of the original authors, the hearing was reminded.

"All in all, you may think that Mr Burrell's behaviour has been pretty shabby. But beyond the extent to which it reflects his honesty, on whether other matters are true you may think this – it has no impact on the means by which those came their death," said the coroner.

Commenting on the suggestion made by some that the Princess was killed because of her anti-land mine stance, Lord Justice Scott Baker

added: "You may think even if her support was an embarrassment, any connection between this and her death is a bridge too far."

The jury was reminded how British policy towards land mines changed when Tony Blair's Government swept to power a few months before Diana's death.

The coroner added: "You may think it is a bit difficult to understand why the Establishment should have a motive for getting rid of Diana when her campaign was... to some extent in line with Government thinking."