Lawyers for Mohamed al Fayed today launched a bid to involve the Queen in the Diana, Princess of Wales inquest.
They called for the monarch to be “directly approached” over conversations she allegedly had with former royal butler Paul Burrell.
Mr Burrell, who previously worked for the Princess, claimed after the collapse of his Old Bailey trial for theft that the monarch had once warned him of “powers at work in this country which we have no knowledge about”.
Michael Mansfield QC, representing Mr al Fayed at a preliminary hearing for the inquest at the High Court in London called for the Queen to be contacted over the matter.
He told Baroness Butler-Sloss, the outgoing coroner for the case: “The inquiries which we suggest be made to assist is for Her Majesty being directly approached and asked was there evidence of conversations as alleged by Mr Burrell?”
He added that references to what the Queen is alleged to have said were edited out of the police documents Mr al Fayed’s legal team had received.
He said: “Nobody appears to have approached Her Majesty about the content of the conversations. What we have noticed over the weekend is that these conversations with Her Majesty in the versions of statements by Operation Paget have been redacted.”
Lady Butler-Sloss remarked: “They have been redacted at my request.”
She added: “As far as Her Majesty is concerned, I don’t know what the protocol is and whatever the protocol may be should be observed. For the time being, I have redacted the conversations of what Her Majesty is supposed to have said...
“In as far as you’re saying that Her Majesty should be directly approached, I think that’s unheard-of.”
Lady Butler-Sloss said she was not saying Mr al Fayed’s team could not have the edited passages, but she would not direct on the matter today.
Mr al Fayed claims Diana was pregnant with his son Dodi’s child and they were murdered in an establishment and secret service plot masterminded by the Duke of Edinburgh.
He has already called for Prince Philip and the Prince of Wales to give evidence at the inquest.
Today was the first preliminary hearing for Diana and Dodi Fayed’s inquest since Lady Butler-Sloss made the shock announcement last month that she is to quit in June.
It erupted with an extraordinary clash between the coroner and the QC representing Mr al Fayed.
In a stormy 40 minutes, Lady Butler-Sloss and Mr Mansfield exchanged accusations and denials over the handling of the inquest, with the coroner accusing the QC of putting her “in the dock”.
As other QCs and parties in court – including Mr al Fayed – listened in stunned silence, the distinguished pair clashed over many issues, including the “late” production of documents and where the full inquest should be held when it eventually takes place.
Lady Butler-Sloss is being replaced by one of Britain’s most senior judges, Lord Justice Scott Baker, after she confessed last month that she lacked the experience to deal with an inquest with a jury.
That confession was one of the flashpoints at today’s hearing, as was news that Lord Justice Scott Baker has indicated he plans to hear the inquest in Court 73 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London – a venue described by Mr Mansfield as “totally inadequate”.
The QC vigorously denied that he was attempting to “dictate” to the coroner and said he was only performing his legitimate role of “making submissions”.