Princess Diana's butler took a bloodstained engagement ring from her body after the fatal Paris car crash in 1997, the butler's former bodyguard said Monday. The former royal butler Paul Burrell denied the claim.

Bodyguard Michael Faux told the inquest investigating Diana's death that Burrell told him he had taken the ring after having him sign a confidentiality agreement.

"I signed the document and he then told me that the reason (why) he wanted me to sign the document was because his lawyers had asked him to do that because he had an engagement ring," Faux told the inquest. "He needed to get it signed because if it was to come out in the future, he could well get into serious trouble."

Faux said Burrell told him he took the ring off the princess's finger. He said Burrell told him he could prove it was Diana's ring because her blood was still on it.

Burrell, who gave three days of often contradictory testimony before the court in January, has refused to return after The Sun newspaper said he was caught on a hidden video camera boasting about withholding information from the judge.

But in a statement read out before the court, he said that the alleged conversation with Faux never took place. He also denied having the ring and said he would never have referred to it as an engagement ring.

"This is not my opinion of what the ring was. I had never told anybody that I have had possession of that ring. I am not in possession of that ring," he said in the statement.

The nature of the relationship between Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed in the weeks before their car crash is key part of the inquiry into their deaths on Aug. 31, 1997.

Fayed's father, Mohamed Al Fayed, has said reports of the couple's impending engagement inspired plotters to act against them. Al Fayed claims Dodi and Diana were targets of a conspiracy directed by Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, and carried out by British intelligence agents.