Sat, Jul 12, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Di charity freezes its funds

REUTERS , LONDON

The Princess Diana Doll and commemorative plate, two of the collectibles made by Franklin Mint.

PHOTO: AP

A charitable memorial fund set up in honor of Britain's late Diana, Princess of Wales, said yesterday its funds had been frozen due to a lawsuit from a US firm.

"The fund is legally obliged to freeze not only new grants but also payment of existing grants," said a statement from the Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, which has funded scores of projects including for AIDS, the homeless and landmine victims.

The fund, first set up to channel donations after Diana's death in a 1997 car crash, said its money was being frozen as part of a transatlantic spat over memorial trinkets that led to a US$25 million lawsuit from US firm Franklin Mint Co.

The Diana Memorial Fund lost a 1998 lawsuit trying to stop the mint using Diana's name and likeness for souvenir items in the US.

The American company is counter-suing in Los Angeles courts for "malicious prosecution."

The Diana fund said it was appealing to other organizations to underwrite some US$16 million worth of existing obligations to more than 120 organizations, some of which were the famously caring princess' pet projects.

The fund, which has administered US$65 million since Diana's death, said 500 jobs within its structure and among beneficiaries were under threat from the freeze.

Franklin Mint says its lawsuit is not a fight about money and would donate to charity any damages awarded after court costs.

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