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Testimony: Diana changes call numbers to stop monitoring
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11:28, November 22, 2007

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Diana, Princess of Wales, was so convinced that her telephone calls were being monitored that she changed her numbers regularly, her former private secretary told an inquest investigating her death on Wednesday.

Michael Gibbins, who worked for Diana for just over a year before her death in a Paris car crash in 1997, said he had detected disapproval by royal officials of the relationships she had.

Giving carefully worded testimony to the court probing the deaths of Diana and her lover Dodi al-Fayed, Gibbins also said some of the causes she espoused like the anti-landmine campaign had caused concern.

British and French police investigations have concluded that Diana and Dodi died because their chauffeur, Henri Paul, was drunk and drove too fast through a Paris road tunnel where it crashed into a pillar.

Dodi's father, Harrods owner Mohamed al-Fayed, said Diana and his son were killed by British security services acting on the orders of Prince Philip.

Michael Mansfield, the lawyer acting for Dodi's father, asked Gibbins, "Did the Princess, or for that matter anyone else, ever communicate to you that one of her concerns was that her phone calls and other communications were being monitored?"

He replied: "She never expressed that concern, but her actions were such, in terms of changing telephone numbers, that it was clear that that was a concern to her, yes.

"I was never directly asked to report on her movements and certainly never did so," the former accountant told the court.

Gibbins described the atmosphere of shock and grief pervading Kensington Palace, Diana's London residence, after her sudden and violent death on Aug. 31, 1997.

"Everyone was very upset indeed," he said. "The telephones were constantly ringing from all sorts of places."

Gibbins said Diana's butler Paul Burrell was "very distressed and distraught so he was not entirely coherent." But Burrell insisted on going to Paris to help bring Diana's body back home.

Gibbins agreed that there was disapproval both in the press and from the royal household of Diana's relationships with men. Among those listed by Mansfield was army officer James Hewitt.

"I'm not sure I was directly aware of that but by inference certainly," Gibbins said.

Source: Xinhua/Agencies

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