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Blair rejects full Diana inquiry

Dodi Fayed and Diana, Princess of Wales
Fayed and the princess were photographed on holiday weeks before they died.

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LONDON, England -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair has rejected a call for a full public inquiry into the death of Princess Diana after a secret letter showed she predicted her own death.

Mohamed al Fayed, whose son Dodi died in a car crash with Diana, said the letter -- revealed Monday by Diana's former butler Paul Burrell -- echoed what the former wife of Prince Charles had told him about fears for her life.

"The publication by Paul Burrell of a letter written to him by Diana ... confirms the suspicions I have so often voiced ... and which have thus far been ignored," Fayed said in a statement.

"The prime minister must now accept that the time is right for a full public inquiry. Further delay will look as though he is colluding in a cover-up and the people of this country will not tolerate that."

But Blair's official spokesman rejected the request. "There has been an exhaustive investigation by the French authorities into the circumstances surrounding Diana's death," he told Reuters.

"There will be nothing to be gained by repeating that process."

"But clearly there will be a routine coroner's inquest in Britain once the French legal processes are completed."

Inquests into Britons who die abroad are provided for under UK law. They are investigations by regional coroners -- judicial officials who investigate unusual or accidental deaths and rule on a cause of dying -- but are usually on a modest scale, with few witnesses.

The coroner in the southern English county of Surrey, where Dodi Fayed lived, said an inquest would be held into his death -- though no date has been set yet.

A separate inquest will be held into Diana's death by the same coroner, who is also the royal coroner. No date for that inquest has been fixed either -- officials saying that final legal formalities in France must first be completed.

Fayed has repeatedly claimed since the 1997 crash that Diana and his son were murdered by British secret services because their relationship was embarrassing to the royal household.

The Daily Mirror reported on Monday that the princess had written to Burrell saying her life was at its "most dangerous" phase.

It quoted the letter as saying: "XXXX is planning 'an accident' in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for Charles to marry."

The newspaper said it knew the identity of the blacked-out name but would not publish it for legal reasons.

Separate inquests will be held into the deaths of Dodi and Diana.
Separate inquests will be held into the deaths of Dodi and Diana.

There was no comment from Buckingham Palace or the office of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, at St. James's Palace.

Diana, 36, was separated from Charles and was dating tycoon Dodi Fayed, 42, at the time of her death.

The princess, Fayed and chauffeur Henri Paul died when their speeding Mercedes smashed into a tunnel in Paris on August 31, 1997. Only a bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived.

A French inquiry in 1999 blamed Paul, saying he had taken a mix of alcohol and drugs. An autopsy revealed high blood alcohol level and traces of anti-depressant drugs in his body.

The French ruling dismissed charges against nine photographers who pursued the Mercedes, as well as a motorcycle courier accompanying the pack.

A spokesman for Prince Charles declined to comment on the revelations. "There will be an inquest at some point in the future and matters relating to the princess' death will be taken up at that time," he said.

The Mirror reported Tuesday the Duke of Edinburgh had written to Princess Diana showing support in her troubled marriage, according to letters purportedly written by the prince. (Full story)

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