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Brit press relieved as Diana inquest ends

Britain's newspapers let out a collective sigh of relief that the latest inquest into the death of Diana, princess of Wales, was finally over and urged that she now be left to rest in peace. Read on...

world Updated: Apr 08, 2008 14:58 IST

Britain's newspapers let out a collective sigh of relief on Tuesday that the latest inquest into the death of Diana, princess of Wales, was finally over and urged that she now be left to rest in peace.

The 11-member jury returned verdicts of unlawful killing through grossly negligent driving, blaming chauffeur Henri Paul and paparazzi photographers pursuing her car at high speed.

Jurors added that the fact that Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were not wearing seatbelts contributed to their deaths.

The Guardian wrote in its editorial that the jury had returned the only verdict that anyone could reasonably anticipate on the basis of the evidence.

"There was no conspiracy involving the Duke of Edinburgh, MI6, Mossad, visitors from Mars or the man on the grassy knoll.

"That's it. The end. Enough. Let it be.

"The inquest rapidly degenerated into a mawkish circus in which some of the most egotistical publicity seekers of the age have been indulged to an extravagant degree at the taxpayers' expense.

"The inquest has been a travesty of what should have been a solemn procedure. Thank God it is over. Let us hope we never have to put up with anything like it again."

During the six-month inquest at London's High Court, Fayed's father Mohamed Al Fayed alleged that the couple were killed in an establishment plot involving senior royals including Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip (the Duke of Edinburgh), to prevent her marrying a Muslim.

Several newspapers urged the Egyptian tycoon to drop his allegations and accept the inquest verdict.

"Mohamed Fayed was understandably grief-stricken by the loss of his son," The Daily Telegraph's editorial read.

"But his efforts in the intervening years to sully the reputations of the royal family, the security and intelligence services, the Metropolitan Police, the British judicial system, sundry diplomats and, indeed, anyone who did not share his paranoid convictions, have long since destroyed any residual sympathy for his predicament."

It continued: "Mr Fayed has nowhere else to go... This must stop here: let the victims of this tragic affair now rest in peace."

The Times chimed in, arguing that "Mr Al Fayed has a responsibility to acknowledge that his preposterous parallel universe of dark royal threats and MI6 assassins has been shown to be just that.

"Tragedy and disbelief launched the process, but it was guided and dignified by the rule of law, whose verdict all concerned must now accept."

Similarly, the Daily Mail wrote that while most people accepted that there was no conspiracy behind the deaths of Diana and Fayed, "because of the deranged conspiracy theories of one rich fantasist, only now has that verdict been recorded."

The tabloid asked whether the inquest had "achieved anything at all?"

"Only this: everyone must now acknowledge that even the wildest conspiracy theories have been fully aired in a British court -- and found to be utterly without founding.

"Is it too much to hope that Diana and Dodi will now be left to rest in peace?"

The Independent's editorial was also along similar lines, with the newspaper writing that "it is to be hoped that this verdict will, at the very least, bring an end to the unedifying soap opera that has accompanied this inquest.

"After six months, 250 sworn testimonies, and considerable public expense, it is difficult not to breathe a sigh of relief that it is finally over."

One newspaper, however, argued that the process was not yet over: The Daily Express, known for its endless Diana conspiracy theory front pages.

According to the tabloid, the inquest "points the way forward for the pursuit of justice."

"While Henri Paul is dead, the drivers of several other vehicles on the streets of Paris that night should clearly now face manslaughter charges."

The paper concluded ominously: "If the wheels of French justice move as slowly as the wheels of its British equivalent such an outcome may still be years away."