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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Inquest into Death of Princess Diana

Aired December 18, 2003 - 06:23   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: You know that inquest I was talking about into the death of Princess Diana that's going to happen in January? We have Matthew Chance now live in London.
See, we came through for all of you -- Matthew, tell us exactly what this means, an inquest into the death of Princess Diana.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's an inquest that's being held as part of a legal procedure here in Britain, into the actual cause of death for Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed. It's something that's a legal procedure here. It's something that the British government must do when any British citizen is killed overseas. Of course, it's been several years now since 1997, when this car crash in Paris killed both Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed.

Separate to this, there is a legal challenge currently under way by the father of Dodi, the billionaire, owner of the Harrad's Department Store, Mohammed Al Fayed, to have a full, public inquiry into the circumstances around the death of his son and of Princess Diana, which he believes was orchestrated in some kind of plot in which the British and U.S. intelligence services were involved.

This isn't that inquiry. It is the first public hearing into the deaths on British soil since the actual car crash, but it doesn't have the full remit of a full public inquiry. Instead, it would just look into the very narrow definition of exactly what was the cause of death for the two individuals.

COSTELLO: Does it have anything to do with the butler Paul Burrell's assertion that Princess Diana predicted her own death?

CHANCE: Well, it will bring all that old news up again about the circumstances around Dodi's and Diana's death in that Paris car crash. It doesn't directly relate to it, though. It won't address those concerns that Paul Burrell, the former butler of Princess Diana, brought up, nor will it address the concerns of Mohammed Al Fayed, who, of course, has been embarked on this long legal campaign since that car crash to get a full investigation into the exact circumstances around the deaths of Dodi and Diana.

As I say, this will just be focused on what the actual cause of death was, which isn't contentious, because obviously they did die in this car crash from injuries sustained in that accident. But, again, from the point of view of Mohammed Al Fayed, and I've spoken to his lawyers within the last few minutes, they're saying it does bring the issue back into the public arena once more and that's something they're welcoming which could, they say, add support to their drive for this full public inquiry, which they would like to see happen.

COSTELLO: And just to clarify something. This inquest was ordered by Michael Burgess, who is the coroner of the queen's household.

Is there any meaning attached to that?

CHANCE: Well, only in that it's normal, it's traditional for that person who has that title of the coroner of the queen's household to conduct these kinds of inquiries into deaths of members of the royal family, of course, of which Diana being the wife of Prince Charles, or the former wife of Prince Charles, of course, was. And so no more significance apart from that, I don't think.

COSTELLO: All right, Matthew Chance, thank you for making that clear.

I know you have to go to gather more information and you'll join us later, we hope.

Matthew Chance live from London.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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