Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Diana's Sister Hits out in Row over the Princess Dolls; LADY SARAH SLAMS LAWYERS FOR ATTACK ON US COMPANY

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Diana's Sister Hits out in Row over the Princess Dolls; LADY SARAH SLAMS LAWYERS FOR ATTACK ON US COMPANY

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES LANGTON;ROBERT JOBSON

PRINCESS DIANA'S family were today locked in a bitter war of words over a multi-million-pound court battle. Diana's sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale has taken the unprecedented step of strongly criticising lawyers who advised her to sue a US company over protecting Diana's image.

Lady Sarah blames the legal team for advising her to pursue the action against American firm The Franklin Mint, which produced dolls of the princess.

She is set to give evidence in a court case scheduled to start in America tomorrow that could cost the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund millions.

Official documents obtained by the Evening Standard show the sense of bitterness Diana's older sister feels towards law firm Mishcon de Reya, where Diana's divorce lawyer Anthony Julius was a senior partner.

She also says, in the papers before the court, that at the time the decision to litigate was made she was still wrapped up in her own "grief and loss" and was distracted by the difficulties of administering Diana's estate.

Lady Sarah, who lost her mother Frances Shand Kydd this summer, said in testimony that she "relied heavily" on the legal team because the memorial fund was formed so quickly after the princess's death.

The fateful decision by the fund to enter the dangerous waters of United States litigation has put the future of all its good causes, and 500 jobs, in doubt.

Its failed legal battle to stop The Franklin Mint using the princess's name cost the Diana fund [pounds sterling]4million.

Now it has been hit by a [pounds sterling]15million countersuit for "malicious prosecution".

If the fund loses, the bill could cripple its activities.

The hearing could be televised worldwide if the BBC wins an application to broadcast it.

In a sworn statement to Los Angeles Superior Court, Lady Sarah states: "The trustees, including myself, were reluctant to litigate, especially in a foreign country. …

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