There is no evidence that Britain's security services were spying on princess Diana.
Lord Justice Scott Baker, who was appointed to oversee the inquest opening Oct. 2, cast doubt the theory, championed by Dodi's father, Mohamed al Fayed, that British agents were intercepting Diana's calls.
Baker was responding to a request from Fayed's lawyer, Michael Mansfield, to add the so-called "Squidgy" tape - which caught Diana in an intimate conversation - to the list of items to be examined by the coroner's jury. Mansfield said the recording could help show the princess was being spied upon.
The embarrassing recording captured Diana talking with a man identified as James Gilbey. He called her "Squidgy" and gushed, "I love you, love you, love you."
Baker said he would consider the request but appeared skeptical, saying there was no proof the tape, which found its way into the media in 1992, was recorded by British intelligence.
"At the moment there is not a shred of evidence that the Security Services were involved," he said.
Baker also promised to prune Mansfield's proposed list of 68 witnesses. Mansfield said the witnesses would testify about the princess' fears of surveillance and plots.
"You're unlikely to get the lot," Baker said after rifling through the list. The judge suggested that eight witnesses, including Diana's butler, Paul Burrell, and Trevor Rees, the bodyguard who survived the crash, appeared pertinent.
The preliminary hearing was the last in a series of hearings intended to finalize the preparations for the long-delayed inquest into how Diana and Fayed died on Aug. 31, 1997, along with their driver, Henri Paul, when their car crashed at an underpass in Paris.
Coroner's counsel Ian Burnett, outlining a tentative schedule for the rest of the year, said the jury would be taken to Paris on Oct. 10 to see the route Diana and Fayed followed from the Ritz hotel to the underpass where their chauffeured Mercedes crashed.
The jury might also walk the route to and from driver Henri Paul's apartment to examine the bars along the way. Two earlier investigations into Diana's death concluded that Paul had been drunk and driving too fast - an issue to be examined a third time by the jury.
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