Diana inquest should have a jury, says lawyer for al Fayed

The lawyer of Harrods boss Mohammed al Fayed has called for a jury to be appointed at the forthcoming Diana inquest so they can make recommendations to curb the actions of journalists.

Michael Beloff QC, counsel for Ritz Hotels, was at the appeal court this week challenging the decision of Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, a former Appeal Court judge and retired head of the High Court's Family Division, to sit alone on the inquest rather than with a jury.

He argued that if a jury were appointed, they might be able to make recommendations to help other people in the public eye hounded by the paparazzi, including Prince William's girlfriend Kate Middleton.

Beloff said: "There is no doubt at all on the evidence available that the paparazzi were involved in the pursuit of the vehicle which crashed on the night in question.

"We respectfully submit that it is quite clear that this is, alas, a recurrent problem in contemporary society.

"There are those who have in recent months — in particular in regard to Kate Middleton — said there is an eerie similarity in the way in which the paparazzi are now hounding this young woman and the way in which they hounded the late Princess Diana."

Other members of the Royal Family, and those who fell within the definition of "celebrity, in the most elastic sense", might be similarly harassed, he said.

Beloff added: "Also, there is a risk to bystanders present when this kind of hot pursuit is engaged upon."

Judges are expected to give a ruling in the case later this week.

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