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Second royal butler trial fails

Brown arrives at the Old Bailey in London on Monday.
Brown arrives at the Old Bailey in London on Monday.

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The trial in Britain of a second royal butler on charges of stealing valuables from the late Princess Diana's estate has collapsed at an estimated cost to the taxpayer for the two cases of of 2 million ($3 million).

Prosecutor William Boyce QC said on Tuesday at London's Old Bailey there was no realistic prospect of a conviction in connection with Harold Brown since the collapse of the trial of another royal butler, Paul Burrell, last month.

"The Director of Public Prosecutions has personally decided that in the light of what occurred during and after the trial of Paul Burrell and events following, to offer no evidence against either defendant on all charges," Boyce told the court.

Brown, 50, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, had been accused of stealing valuables worth more than $780,000 from Diana's estate.

He faced three charges under the 1968 Theft Act. Prosecutors alleged he stole an ornate model Arabian sailing vessel worth $700,000 -- a wedding gift to Diana and Prince Charles from the Emir of Bahrain in 1981 -- a bangle and pair of earrings, and a diamond daffodil motif.

The case against society jeweller Jan Havlik, charged with handling the valuables, was also dismissed.

Brown and Havlik were freed from court by Judge Michael Hyam, who awarded them their defence costs.

It was evidence that came out in the case against Burrell -- which revealed staff regularly received gifts from Britain's royals -- which seriously weakened the prosecution case.

Said CNN royal correspondent Robert Jobson: "This is terribly embarrassing for the queen. I think she can't wait for Christmas when she can go to Sandringham and close the door and forget this year -- it's been a terrible year."

Brown had been a servant to senior members of the royal family for more than three decades and continued to work for the ailing Princess Margaret even after he was charged.

His solicitor James Brotherton said: "Harold Brown is clearly delighted by the result today. He has always maintained his innocence in this matter and the police and prosecution have today offered no evidence."

Burrell, accused of stealing hundreds of items, mostly from Diana, Princess of Wales, walked free after the case against him collapsed when a statement from Queen Elizabeth confirmed he had told her he was removing some items.

The former chief of Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Scotland, Bill Taylor, has been appointed to conduct an internal review of the Metropolitan Police's investigation of the cases involving Paul Burrell and Harold Brown, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.

Said Jobson: "We have had inquiry after inquiry -- there is a St James's Palace inquiry, now a Scotland Yard inquiry. It is all very embarrassing."



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