LONDON – A coroner sent a jury out Wednesday to consider its verdict in the deaths of Princess Diana and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed.
Lord Justice Scott Baker told the jury to take as long as they need to consider the evidence from the six-month inquest into how Diana and Fayed died a 1997 Paris car accident in while being trailed by photographers.
More than 240 witnesses have given evidence, including Diana's close friends, Prince Philip's private secretary, a former head of the Secret Intelligence Service and Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell.
"There is no pressure of time," Baker told jurors. "Take as long as is necessary."
Among the last questions he put to the jury was whether Diana and Fayed would have survived had they worn their seat belts and whether Diana would have lived had she been taken to the hospital more quickly.
He told the jury that the conspiracy theory promoted by Dodi's father, Mohamed Al Fayed — that the couple were killed in a secret-service plot masterminded by Prince Philip — "has been minutely examined and shown to be without any substance."
He said the jury could consider evidence that the deaths were the result of gross negligence by driver Henri Paul, the paparazzi who pursued the couple, or both.
Baker had previously told the jury that to reach a verdict of unlawful killing they would have to find evidence of recklessness amounting to manslaughter. If not, he said, they should consider whether the crash was simply an accident.
The last resort for a verdict was an open verdict which could include the possibility of a staged accident.