Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Diana: the inquest

Another 'not quite politics' post, but certainly one that politicians have a considerable part in.

It is almost impossible to conceive what Lord Justice Scott Baker is doing allowing the inquest on Princess Diana to become as farcical as has been for some time now. The enormous public expense is as nothing set against the wholly inappropriate trawling through Diana's private life; of interest to those of a voyeuristic disposition no doubt but a disgrace to a society that claims to have civilised values.

Rational people recognise that Diana died as a result of a car accident, in which an employee of Mohamed al Fayed who had been drinking was at the wheel of the car concerned and driving it at an excessive speed. The firing of a flashgun by a press photographer in front of the car in the Parisien tunnel may or may not have happened, and if it did it may have been a factor in the crash. All this could have been settled within, at an absolute maximum, two days. It is the verdict the jury will eventually return. But instead the whole conduct of the inquest has been at the behest of a delusional paranoiac who will, when the jury returns it's verdict, claim that the 12 of them along with the judge and everyone else is part of the same lunatic conspiracy.

It would have saved an awful lot of time if al Fayed had been asked at the outset whether he could identify anyone who wasn't involved in his labyrinthine 'conspiracy' , or even to provide one shred of proof for his absurd and irrational claims. But Diana and her family should have been treated with more dignity regardless of any other decisions as to how this wretched 'inquest' was to be conducted.

This is not of course the first time that Mohamed al Fayed has been in the public eye. The last time was when he was slipping bungs to corrupt Conservative MPs. The government was right to refuse him citizenship, the time is long past when they should have reviewed his residency status. And Lord Justice Scott Baker could usefully reflect on whether he should call time on his judicial career following this wretched and inexcusable performance.

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