Di's Former Butler: I Lied At Death Probe

Paul Burrell, Princess Diana's former butler, looks at a pale blue silk chiffon dress by Catherine Walker that belonged to the Princess of Wales, in New York Monday Aug. 13, 2007.
AP Photo
There's been no shortage of sensational headlines from the inquest into the death of Princess Diana.

Now, reports CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar, it's the turn of Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, to make headlines again.

He has, says MacVicar, been caught on tape, champagne glass in hand, talking to an undercover reporter and claiming he lied to the inquest.

"Perjury is not a very nice thing to consider," Burrell is heard saying. "When you swear an oath you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth -- I told the truth as far as I could but, but I didn't tell the whole truth."


Photos: Images From The Inquest
Burrell's appearance at court last month was, observes MacVicar, humiliating: He was forced to acknowledge that what he'd been calling Diana's 'secret' was no secret at all, rather, a reworked tale of her desire to move to the United States.

"I was very naughty and I laid a couple of red herrings," Burell says on the tape, "and I couldn't help doing it. And I know you shouldn't play with justice, and I know it's illegal. I realize how serious it is, but all through my life, all through, since the princess died, I have measured what I've said."

Measured what he has said, MacVicar notes, and made a fortune: As Diana's ex-butler, Burrell now sells wine, books, furniture -- and himself -- as Diana's 'rock,' mostly to Americans entranced by his proximity to the princess."


Photos: The Papparazzi Photos
"We kind of loved him for a period, we started to believe that maybe he could have been Princess Diana's rock," celebrity writer Neil Sean told MacVicar. "Sadly. now that rock has fallen."

Burrell claims he was guided by Diana's spirit during his testimony, saying on the tape, "She knew why I was doing it, and what I was doing. The trouble, you see, when you say that, and you can't say that in a courtroom situation because the coroner will hold you in contempt of court, put you in prison, so there was no way I was going there, no way."


Photos: Diana's Ill-Fated Journey
He may have to go there, MacVicar points out. The coroner says the matter is now under investigation, and he could face charges of perjury and contempt of court. A conviction could bring up to ten years in jail.

"As the inquest descends further into expensive farce and fairy tales," MacVicar says, "there is consolation for the butler" The millions he continues to make from the royal souvenirs he hawks in the U.S. and, as they say, 'There is no such thing as bad publicity.' "