LONDON – Princess Diana's butler has refused to return to the inquest into her death to explain inconsistencies in his testimony, the coroner's court said Thursday.
Lord Justice Scott Baker asked Paul Burrell to testify for a second time to explain statements published by The Sun newspaper last month in which he purportedly said he did not tell the inquest the full truth about the August 1997 Paris car crash that killed Diana and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed.
The Sun obtained what it said was a videotape of Burrell boasting about withholding information from the judge.
"Do you honestly think I've told everything I know?" The Sun quoted Burrell as saying in its transcript of the video. "Of course I haven't."
The court said it cannot compel Burrell to return since he is no longer in the country. He refused to testify in person or via videolink, the coroner said in a statement.
Burrell lives in Florida.
The court read a witness statement to the jury made by Burrell on Feb. 26. In it, Burrell said he had not concealed "anything remotely relevant to the inquiry."
"I accept that whilst I was under cross-examination my evidence may at times have strayed from the strictly relevant, but at no time did I tell any untruths. I tried to assist the court as far as I was able," he said.
At the time of the videotaped conversation with an unidentified "contact" in a New York hotel room he said he was "tired and depressed and had been drinking all evening."
"I am not proud of this. I was trying to impress him. The comments I made to him were not correct," Burrell said in the statement.
The inquest began five months ago after a decade of British and French police investigations and French court proceedings. Both investigations concluded the deaths were accidental.
However, Fayed's father, Mohamed Al Fayed, has claimed during the inquest that the two were murdered by the security services on the orders of Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II. Al Fayed claims the couple were killed because the British establishment did not want them to marry.
The author of two books about the princess's life, Burrell gave three days of often contradictory testimony in January.
He told the inquest jury that he and Diana shared a secret, but he could not remember what it was. He later said the secret might have been a planned trip abroad, but claimed not to remember when she shared it with him. He also said he did not know whether the princess was engaged to Fayed before she died.