02 April 2008

Coroner rules out conspiracy verdict

According to newspaper reports the Diana Inquest has cost some £7-10million. The hope was that it would clear up some of the unanswered questions about Diana's death, and in doing so, reach a conclusion as to whether her death was an accident, manslaughter or perhaps murder.

The previous coroner, Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, had decided that she would sit without a jury and decide the verdict alone.

This caused an amount of comment, especially from those supporting a conspiracy theory, who saw a whitewash - an establishment figure alone deciding the outcome. They argued that only by allowing a jury of normal people to decide a verdict would there be any chance of convincing skeptics that the death really was just an accident.

Mohamed Al Fayed challenged the decision, and won. Despite the extra costs, the inquest would have a jury of normal people. Baroness Butler-Sloss stepped down as coroner.

Now with the inquest almost complete, and millions of pounds later, the new coroner has decided that the jury won't have the option to decide that there was a conspiracy after all. They'll be limited to finding that deaths were either an accident, manslaughter (by drunk driver/paparazzi) or unexplained. The jury cannot apparently be trusted to dismiss a conspiracy themselves, so must have it done for them.

Its by no means likely that the jury would have concluded that it was a conspiracy. But it makes a mockery of the legal ruling to use a jury if another establishment figure (the current coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker) then takes away the most controversial of options from them. Surely if the evidence for a conspiracy is so non-existent, then a jury can be trusted to come to this conclusion too?

Perhaps the millions might have been better spent elsewhere.

More info:
The Independent - Coroner rules out Diana murder verdict


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    However, despite the inclusion of a jury, the new coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker, decided to limit the options available to the jury in reaching a verdict. They would not have the option to consider a conspiracy verdict; instead, they would be limited to determining whether the deaths were accidental, manslaughter (possibly due to a drunk driver or paparazzi), or unexplained. This decision by the coroner has raised questions about the purpose of including a jury if the most controversial option is not available to them.

    While it is unlikely that the jury would have concluded a conspiracy, some argue that removing the option from their consideration undermines the original intent of including a jury of ordinary individuals. If the evidence for a conspiracy is truly lacking, it could be argued that the jury should have the ability to reach that conclusion independently. Casa Bella