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French photographer rejected statement in Diana's case

A French photographer has refused to testify at the inquest into the death of Princess Diana.

The coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker, had said Romuald Rat had received a summons to give evidence by video link from Paris. The inquest was told Tuesday that Rat responded he would not appear "either today or any day."

Baker told the jury: "So at least now there is that clarity as to where we are."

Baker was prepared to allow the jury to hear previous statements made by Rat and other paparazzi who pursued Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed in Paris before the fatal car crash on Aug. 31, 1997.

Romuald Rat had received a summons to give evidence by video
Romuald Rat had received a summons to give evidence by video
But on Monday, the Court of Appeal sided with a lower court in ruling that those statements could not be presented without giving attorneys representing various parties the opportunity to question the witnesses.

Kenneth Lennox, former picture editor of The Sun, had told the inquest he was telephoned by someone offering such pictures for 300,000 pounds (EUR418,000 US$620,000) and he identified the caller as Rat.

On Tuesday, however, Lennox told the inquest he accepted that Rat, along with other photographers, was already in police custody at that time.

In an e-mail to Martyn Gregory, author of a book about Diana's last days, Rat denounced Lennox's earlier story as defamatory, according to Britain's Press Association news agency.

The e-mail was not read to the inquest jury.