LONDON: The coroner heading the British inquest into the deaths of Princess Diana and her Egyptian boyfriend Dodi Al-Fayed said Tuesday she is resigning.
Retired judge Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, 73, said she would hand over to Lord Justice Scott Baker in June, saying she did not have the degree of exprience of jury cases for such a high-profile probe.
In March, the High Court in London overturned her decision to handle the case on her own, ruling in favour of Fayed s father Mohammed by insisting that the inquest into their deaths must be heard by a jury.
Fayed senior, the millionaire owner of Harrod s department store, claims the couple s deaths were part of a plot by the British establishment opposed to the mother of the future king marrying a Muslim.
Not to have a jury would confirm his suspicions of a cover-up, he said.
Butler-Sloss, who has said she had not yet seen a shred of evidence to back charges of such a plot, said she will step down in June when Lord Justice Scott Baker will take over.
I must stress this does not require a fresh start for the inquest, she said. I will continue to preside over the pre-inquest hearings until Lord Justice Scott Baker takes up the appointment in June.
This will ensure the inquest s momentum is maintained while he will Also have the opportunity to familiarise himself with the voluminous paperwork associated with the inquest.
In March, Butler-Sloss postponed the full inquest from its expected start date in May until on or about October after Fayed sought more time for the massive amount of work to get papers together.
The full hearing is expected to last between four and eight months.
It comes at the time of the 10th anniversary of their deaths.
Diana married Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, in 1981 and was a hugely popular member of Britain s royAl family. The couple separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.
She was killed in a Paris car crash on August 31, 1997 Along with Dodi Fayed and his chauffeur Henri Paul.
Fayed senior has refused to accept the conclusions of the British police report by Lord John Stevens which was published last December.
He has dismissed its conclusions that the crash was a tragic accident caused by a drunk driver travelling too fast, saying it was a cover-up and garbage .
Under British law, inquests are only used to establish basic facts about a death and cannot determine blame or liability.