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Royal Aide Named by Italian Newspaper

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Royal aide named by Italian newspaper

Monday November 11, 2002

The royal aide believed to be at the centre of homosexual rape allegations was today named in an Italian newspaper.

The aide broke his silence at the weekend to mount a vigorous denial of the claims and condemn his accuser as unreliable.

But he has remained anonymous until today, when La Repubblica told its readers the identity of the aide, who works for the Prince of Wales, in an article on the gathering crisis engulfing the British royal family.

Despite not being named in Britain, the aide yesterday issued a point-by-point rebuttal through his solicitors of the rape allegations made by George Smith, an ex-valet who claimed he was attacked twice by the man.

Mr Smith was labelled by the solicitors, Kingsley Napley, as unreliable and an alcoholic whose story differed "substantially and significantly" from what he told police last year.

Falklands veteran Mr Smith, 42, gave his account to the Mail on Sunday. He also claimed he had witnessed an incident involving a member of the royal family and a Buckingham Palace servant, but the newspaper said it was prevented from repeating the allegations for legal reasons.

Kingsley Napley said it had "no comment" on whether it would sue the Italian newspaper over the article.

Mr Smith claimed disclosure of the incident would damage the monarchy irreparably and was the "real reason" for the Queen's intervention, which brought an end to the trial of Paul Burrell, former butler to Diana, Princess of Wales.

Mr Smith's claims, which he claimed were tape recorded by the princess, may have been aired publicly in court.

As the furore intensified, senior officials at Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace were holding meetings to discuss their options.

There have been calls for an unprecedented independent inquiry into the royal family's role in the collapse of Mr Burrell's trial.

Labour MPs have urged that a senior retired judge or former civil servant be appointed to lead an investigation.

Mr Burrell himself was trawling American TV networks to tell his story, as two British newspapers accused him of being gay.

He was due to appear on Barbara Walters' show 20/20, breakfast show Good Morning America and daytime show The View.

The rape allegations - which do not involve Mr Burrell - have dominated news headlines over the weekend.

The statement from the accused aide's solicitors said: "The allegations made now to the Mail on Sunday by Mr Smith differ substantially and significantly in many regards from those made to the police last year and must cast serious doubt on Mr Smith's reliability and the accuracy of any allegations he might be persuaded to make."

It added: "Our client has consistently denied that these offences ever took place, and whilst he has no desire to enter into the current media frenzy, cannot allow wholly untrue allegations against him to be reported and unchallenged."

Mr Smith claimed the aide raped him in 1989 and later tried to assault him again while they were accompanying the Prince of Wales on a foreign tour to Cairo.

Police investigated the matter last year but Scotland Yard said the alleged victim chose not to pursue the claim and it was subsequently dropped.

Mr Smith, who was married at the time, claimed that in 1996 he told Diana about the alleged rape and that she recorded his accusation on tape.

The Mail on Sunday claimed Diana deposited the cassettes, one labelled "The Confessions of George Smith", in a locked mahogany box - the one police were searching for when they raided Mr Burrell's house during their theft inquiry in January 2001.

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