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Diana's butler faces probe of testimony

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  • The judge at the Princess Diana inquest is investigating Diana's former butler
  • He was secretly recorded discussing his testimony by a newspaper
  • The judge is to review the circumstances under which it was obtained
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The judge at the Princess Diana inquest is investigating whether Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, lied on the stand after he was secretly recorded saying he "didn't tell the whole truth" in his testimony last month.

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Diana's former butler gave conflicting information at the enquiry into her death.

The Sun newspaper said it obtained the secret recording of Burrell and was turning the tape over to the court Tuesday afternoon. The judge at the inquest, Lord Justice Scott Baker, said in court Monday that he had requested the tape.

The newspaper reported on the tape in its Monday edition and posted selected portions of the black-and-white video on its Web site.

The Sun's headline read, "Butler admits perjury," but the footage posted doesn't contain such an admission. Burrell is heard saying he didn't tell the inquest everything he knew and that he threw in some "red herrings."

"Perjury is not a very nice thing to have to consider," Burrell says in the tape. "I told the truth as far as I could, but I didn't tell the whole truth."

Burrell did not respond to repeated attempts by CNN to contact him for comment.

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The Sun said the video was shot in New York while Burrell was on a business trip. The former butler is seen sitting on a couch with his legs crossed, speaking to someone out of view.

"I was very naughty and I made a couple of red herrings," he says regarding his testimony. "I know you shouldn't play with justice and I know it's illegal. I do realize how serious it is."

Lawyers said in court Monday that the judge was aware of the article and tape after Dodi Fayed's father, Mohamed Al Fayed, displayed the newspaper while on the witness stand.

"Mr. Al Fayed, I can see you are holding up the front page of The Sun that makes suggestions that Mr. Burrell has admitted having lied to the jury," said Ian Burnett, a lawyer for the court. "That is something that the coroner is already pursuing."

The judge, who is the coroner, confirmed he was investigating.

"I shall want to know all about the circumstances in which it was obtained and we will proceed from there as appropriate," Baker told the court.

The inquest is the official British inquiry into the deaths of the princess and Fayed in a Paris car crash August 31, 1997. Proceedings began last October and are expected to last about six months.

The inquest takes account of the findings of French and British police, which conducted separate investigations into the crash. The reason the inquest took more than a decade to begin is that it had to wait for the police to reach their conclusions. Both police investigations found the crash was an accident.

Burrell's testimony over three days in mid-January did not include any bombshells, as many had expected from Diana's confidante -- a man whom the princess once called her "rock."

Burrell testified that Diana was not serious about her relationship with Fayed and did not welcome the idea of marriage with him. Fayed's father, Mohamed Al Fayed, testified Monday that the pair were engaged when they died.

The former butler also cast doubt on claims by Al Fayed that the queen's husband, Prince Philip, was behind an assassination plot.

Burrell delayed revealing a mysterious "secret" contained in Diana's last letter to him, but later told the judge it simply involved a banal plan to buy property abroad. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Princess DianaDodi Al-FayedMohamed Al-FayedPaul BurrellRoyalty

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