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Rape charges continue to rattle the U.K.

Rape charges continue to rattle the U.K.

Prince Charles's private secretary announced Tuesday that the prince will conduct an internal review of concerns surrounding the trial of former butler Paul Burrell and allegations of same-sex rape by a former member of his staff. Sir Michael Peat said he would investigate whether any members of Charles's household acted improperly in connection with the collapse of Burrell's trial for theft. Critics claim that the royal family intervened to end the trial and prevent embarrassing revelations from emerging when Burrell gave evidence. Burrell was the late Princess Diana's longtime butler. The palace inquiry, the results of which are expected to be published by Christmas, will also look at allegations that officials covered up accusations of same-sex rape by one of Charles's aides as well as the question of royal gifts allegedly being sold for cash, Peat said. "The Prince of Wales has instructed me to undertake this inquiry without fear or favor," Peat said. "Concerns have been raised in the newspapers. Underlying it may be some matters that may well be of concern to people, and therefore we are going to look into these matters." On Sunday George Smith, a 42-year-old former valet of Prince Charles's, was quoted as saying in a newspaper interview that he had been raped by another man on the palace staff. Prince Charles's office has said that the allegations were previously investigated within the palace and by police and that there was no basis for prosecution. Smith was quoted as telling The Mail on Sunday tabloid that he was assaulted in 1989. The alleged attacker was not identified in the report. Smith was also quoted as saying that the man tried to assault him again while they both accompanied Prince Charles on a foreign tour to Cairo. Law firm Kingsley Napley later released a statement on behalf of the unidentified alleged rapist, denying all Smith's allegations. Prince Charles's office at St. James's Palace said the alleged victim did not raise the issue until 1996. It said in a statement that the allegation was fully investigated at that time but was not reported to the police because "no evidence was forthcoming and because the person concerned did not want to pursue the matter further." The allegation surfaced again in 2001, and police did investigate, but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute. A spokeswoman for Prince Charles repeated Sunday that police had found no evidence to support his allegation and that if Smith had new evidence, he should provide it immediately.

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