Princess Diana's butler, Paul Burrell, told of taking a bloodstained ring from her body after the Paris car crash that killed her in 1997, the butler's former bodyguard said Monday. Burrell denied the claim.

Michael Faux told the inquest investigating Diana's death that Burrell told him the story of the ring after having the bodyguard sign a confidentiality agreement.

"I signed the document, and he then told me that the reason he wanted me to sign the document was because his lawyers had asked him to do that because he had an engagement ring," Faux said. "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 from 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 had been taped by a hidden video camera boasting about withholding information from the inquest.

But in a statement read out before the court, Burrell denied engaging in the conversation that Faux described. 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," Burrell said in the statement.

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

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