IT is not all that great a surprise that Baroness Butler-Sloss has decided to stand down as coroner for the inquests into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Al Fayed.

In announcing her decision yesterday she said that felt she lacked the experience required to deal with an inquest with a jury. Although that may be true, it has been obvious at the hearings over which she presided from the time of her appointment last September that she was not at ease with the case. Partly this was because of the determination of Mohammad al Fayed and his lawyers to challenge many of the decisions that Baroness Butler-Sloss made instead of meekly accepting them.

The first set-back for her was the backing that Mr al Fayed obtained from a higher court that the inquests should be held in public rather than in private.

He then challenged her decision that there should not be a jury and, after consultation, she had to reverse that ruling.
Mr al Fayed next asked for a delay in the proceedings so that new information could be examined thoroughly; again the Baroness resisted but then had to give way.

When the substantive hearings resume in October Lord Justice Scott Baker, one of Britain's most experienced judges, will be sitting as “assistant deputy coroner for Inner West London”! He will be third coroner to consider how Princess Diana and Dodi al Fayed died in Paris ten years ago.