COPS hunting Princess Diana's lost treasures have grilled the nephew of shamed royal butler Paul Burrell over sensational new evidence uncovered by the News of the World.
Scotland Yard detectives swooped on Stephen Cosgrove after our investigation revealed he was tricked into spiriting away THREE bin liners of Diana's "precious" things from Kensington Palace and stashing them in an attic.
In a sworn affidavit backing our scoop two weeks ago—that sick former flunky Burrell bragged he secretly had SEX with Diana— Stephen told how he looked INSIDE the bags and found them stuffed with the princess's valuables.
Stephen, who has kept his silence for 11 years, declared: "Burrell told me to keep them safe because they were precious. I'm upset because I now feel duped. He was just using me."
Police last night confirmed that a team of officers from the Yard's Specialist Crime Directorate were sent to Wrexham on Friday to see Stephen.
He was not arrested or cautioned but spent 90 minutes being questioned. Afterwards detectives said they are convinced Stephen does NOT know where Diana's missing belongings are now. But they insisted they will investigate ANYONE with new information.
Our evidence could now lead to officers jetting to quiz 50-year-old Burrell in Florida, where he now lives after amassing a £25million fortune peddling Diana's secrets and trading on her name.
But they are hampered by the fact that THE QUEEN admitted Burrell told her privately he was taking some of Diana's belongings for safe-keeping— the revelation that led to the collapse of his Old Bailey theft trial in 2002.
In his sworn statement to us Stephen, 37, said: "In late November 1997 I was staying with the Burrell family at Kensington Palace. While I was there Paul asked me to help him load three large boxes which contained three plastic bin liners into my car and to take them home to Cheshire for him.
"He told me the items inside were ‘precious'. They were his words."
Stephen said he was "happy" to help because he trusted Burrell and had no reason to suspect anything dishonest was going on. He added: "I just thought he was getting rid of stuff before he moved out of the palace.
"Paul told me that Earl Spencer, along with Diana's mother and sisters, were ‘like vultures' and wanted to go inside the palace and go through all Diana's belongings."
Stephen said he set off from London around 2pm arriving in Cheshire about four hours later.
"Paul Burrell asked me to put the boxes in a relative's loft," added Stephen. "But I was so low on fuel I decided to go to a friend's garage, close to my home, to fill up.
"I was curious about the boxes because I could smell a woman's perfume coming from them. So I opened one in my friend's kitchen. On top was a woman's hat and a classy blue blazer with gold buttons.
"There was also an expensive evening dress with sequins. They'd all belonged to Diana who'd died in August that year. There were other items, some heavy, wrapped in newspaper.
"I was larking around with my mate and tried one of the hats on for a joke. My friend held the blazer up as if to try it on. Then his wife came in and flipped. She thought it was morbid and said it wasn't right. So I packed it all up, took it to a relative's and put it in the loft."
Stephen was now worried and phoned his father Ron to tell him what had happened. Stephen told us: "Dad then spoke to Burrell and he came up from London and removed the boxes from the loft. I don't know where he took them.
"I feel let down by Burrell because he made me remove things that were the princess's property without my knowledge. I was merely doing him a favour."
In our scoop two weeks ago we told how Burrell's brother-in-law Ron later found one of the binliners in a shed behind the family florist shop. He said there was a diamond ring on the floor nearby and he could feel a tiara through the plastic bag.
He said he rang Burrell, who immediately came and took them away.