Diana's alleged `go-between' said to have gone abroad

 

The family of Dr James Colthurst, the Irish man reported to have been the go-between for the Princess of Wales and her biographer, yesterday said they knew nothing about this alleged role. According to reports in the Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Times, Cork-born Dr Colthurst (40) delivered written queries from Andrew Morton to Princess Diana in the early 1990s, and returned her tape-recorded replies.

But yesterday, Dr Colthurst's mother, Lady Colthurst, said neither she nor her husband, Sir Richard, knew anything about her son being the intermediary for the princess and Mr Morton. "We don't know anything about it, so there's nothing to say," said Lady Colthurst at the family's Irish estate in Blarney, which includes the famous Blarney Castle. Dr Colthurst was a close friend of Diana from the period when she worked as a nanny in London before her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981. Reports suggested that Mr Morton began "cultivating" Dr Colthurst as a valuable contact after the princess visited St Thomas's Hospital in London, where he was working as a junior doctor, in 1986. Although Dr Colthurst was thanked in the acknowledgements of Mr Morton's book, he merited only three text references in Diana's life before her marriage.

The connection with Diana allegedly given by Dr Colthurst enabled Mr Morton and the princess to deny any collusion between them when preparing the first book, yesterday's newspaper reports suggested. Mr Morton admitted last week that Diana had been the main source for both books and that she had returned draft copies of each chapter to publishers with corrections and comments written in the margins. Dr Colthurst is a regular visitor to Blarney. He was there briefly last week, piloting his own plane into Cork Airport on Wednesday and flying out again on Thursday. He lives with his wife, Dominique, and two daughters near Hungerford in Berkshire. It is believed he left Britain at the weekend and is now in the West Indies.

Meanwhile in London, Mr Mohamed Al-Fayed, whose son, Dodi, was killed in the Paris car crash with Diana, has banned the sale of the book Diana: Her True Story In Her Own Words from his department store, Harrods.

"Mr Al-Fayed gave the order as soon as he found out the book was on sale and I believe they were removed yesterday [Saturday] afternoon. . . He didn't want to sell it on taste grounds: he didn't want the book in his shop because he saw it as a blatant attempt to gain money out of an awful tragedy for which he is still in grieving," said his spokesman, Mr Michael Cole.

It also emerged yesterday that Mr Al-Fayed had given the princess an assurance in 1992, when the first version of the book was published, that it would not be sold at Harrods or any of the House of Fraser stores which he then owned.