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Trial of Diana's butler resumes with new jury

Friday, October 18, 2002

The Associated PressLONDON -- The theft trial of Princess Diana's butler resumed Thursday with a new jury and an edict from the judge that some evidence can be suppressed to protect the late princess's sons, William and Harry.

Justice Anne Rafferty halted the trial Wednesday -- its third day -- and dismissed the jury without public explanation. Court orders forbid reporting why she dismissed the jury.

Burrell has pleaded innocent to three charges relating to the theft of hundreds of items from the princess and other members of the royal family.

Burrell, 44, is accused of taking more than 300 items between Jan. 1, 1997, and June 30, 1998. The property allegedly included letters, photos, and compact discs owned by Diana, Prince Charles or their son, Prince William, at Kensington Palace, Diana's London home.

The first witness for the prosecution started testifying Tuesday. Wednesday's proceedings were delayed by legal arguments before Rafferty dismissed the jury.

After complaints from journalists covering the trial at London's Old Bailey court that certain evidence had been shown to the first jury alone, Rafferty ruled Thursday that the interests of the young princes had to be considered when revealing details of the case.

Journalists had complained that when prosecutor William Boyce had read Burrell's statement to the first jury, he omitted at least one key passage, asking jurors to read it for themselves -- leaving journalists and the public in the dark.

Attorney Jonathan Caplan, representing some journalists, told the court that the "principle of open justice clearly requires all the evidence in open court to be read publicly," unless there was a legal exception and reasons were given. Burrell's statement was a "very important document," he said.

But the judge said that "the interests of justice in this singular case encompass not only those of Mr. Burrell, but also those of two young princes."

Burrell was arrested on suspicion of theft in January 2001 after police searched his home in northwest England and allegedly found dozens of Diana's personal items. He has said they were all given to him by Diana for safekeeping.

Boyce told the new jury of seven men and five women that after Diana's death in 1997, Burrell went to work at the memorial fund set up in her memory, continuing to live in his apartment at Kensington Palace.

"It was during this period following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, when he left, that the Crown (prosecution) says he stole the property," Boyce said

He said when police raided Burrell's home, they found more than 300 items "that he should not have had," including a silver salver inscribed "HRH The Duchess of Clarence, Christmas 1826," a white metal pepper grinder and a book of watercolors, all belonging to the Prince of Wales.

The trial continues Friday.


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