LONDON: The inquest into the death of Princess Diana will be heard by a jury, following a successful legal challenge by the father of her late boyfriend.
Mohamed al-Fayed, Dodi Fayed’s father and the owner of London’s Harrods department store, brought the lawsuit after the presiding coroner ruled that she alone would hear the case. The High Court in London today overturned that decision, calling it “flawed.”
The long-delayed inquiry, now scheduled to begin later this year, will scrutinize the events leading up to the 1997 car crash in Paris that claimed the lives of Diana, Dodi and their driver, Henri Paul.
Al-Fayed, who has repeatedly claimed that the accident was staged by British intelligence services because of royal embarrassment about the couple’s romance, says that only a jury of “ordinary” men and women can fairly evaluate the case.
The inquest, which was initially opened and adjourned in 2004, has been delayed for more than 9 1/2 years pending the conclusion of multiple French probes and a U.K. police investigation.
The British inquiry, concluded in December, rejected a series of conspiracy theories in finding that Paul was drunk and speeding when he slammed into the 13th pillar of Paris’s Pont de l’Alma tunnel, killing three of the four passengers on board.
Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, formerly one of Britain’s most senior judges, was appointed to the role of deputy coroner to hear the inquest. The next preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 5.