The inquest in to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, cannot hear evidence from paparazzi present at the scene of the crash unless they agree to be cross-examined, two High Court judges ruled today.
The family of the Princess’s driver, Henri Paul, challenged a decision by the coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker, that statements made by photographers shortly after the crash could be heard at the inquest even though they refused to give evidence in person.
All but one of the photographers who were in or around the Pont de l’Alma Tunnel in Paris on August 31, 1997 have refused to attend the inquest, even by a video link from France.
The coroner cannot force them to attend the hearing, and the French Government has refused to intervene.
Lord Justice Baker ruled that statements made by the photographers to police could be read to the jury in spite of their absence.
But lawyers for Jean and Giselle Paul — supported by the Paris Ritz Hotel, which is owned by Mohamed Al Fayed — objected on the grounds that reading the statements without witnesses to cross-examine would deny them the chance to challenge the evidence.
They said the coroner’s decision was against rule 37 of the 1984 Coroners’ Rules, which allows such documentary evidence to be admitted only where it is “unlikely to be disputed” and not objected to by the official “interested persons” in the case.