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Rt Hon Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, GBE

Assistant Deputy Coroner of Inner West London

Opening statement for a Pre-Inquest Hearing
for the inquests into the deaths
of the late Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed

Court 73 Royal Courts of Justice

5th March 2007 at 10 am.

I wanted to start by telling you that I have been appointed on Friday, the second Deputy Coroner for Inner West London.  I am about to be taken off the list of assistant Deputy Coroners of Surrey and also as the deputy in the Royal Household.

So from now on, these are inquests in Inner West London and the transfers have been effected in respect both of Diana Princess of Wales and also of Dodi Al Fayed and both of their inquests are now to be held, at least for the time being, in Inner West London.

I am of course going to be sitting with a jury. I have no intention whatever of appealing the decision of the administrative court, I accept entirely what the administrative court has said.

I hope to sit and I emphasise hope, in this court, which is being as you can see specially set up for this inquest.

I wish to make it completely clear that the conclusions in the Operation Paget report were those of the police and that in relation to these two inquests nothing has been decided.  I shall of course be approaching all the issues with a completely open mind, and all the relevant issues will be open for determination by the jury.

Over the next few weeks, it will be necessary for us all to have discussions and for me, as a result of those discussions, to give decisions on which of the issues
are relevant.

I am very conscious of the position of the grieving relatives.  And I remember the wish expressed by the Royal principles at the last hearing, that the inquest should move swiftly to a conclusion.

Consequently, for the sake of all the interested persons, I would be very sad if I was obliged to delay the start of the main proceedings for another six months.  I feel that would be very, very hard on the families.