BBC defends Fayed interview on Diana crash

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THE BBC yesterday defended its decision to air a radio interview with Mohamed Al Fayed in which, with no new evidence, he alleged that his son Dodi and Diana, Princess of Wales, were murdered by MI5 and MI6.

During the 14-minute peak-time interview - a duration usually reserved for senior politicians - Mr Fayed repeated his claims that the Princess regained consciousness and spoke before she died, and alleged that a blood sample from the driver, Henri Paul, was switched to show he had been drinking.The Foreign Office said the claims contained no new evidence.

Mr Fayed made the allegations on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Dismissing the findings of the two-year French inquiry, which found Mr Paul had alcohol and mild prescription drugs in his system, he said: "Henri Paul was on the payroll of MI6 for three years as an informer. They killed him, they had to kill him, of course.

"He was only doing around 40 or 50 miles per hour [at the time of the crash]. It is all disinformation... The guy had not been drinking. It was not his blood. It had been changed. I am already mounting an appeal in the Court of Appeal. No one can hide.

"I am a father and I know my son had been murdered and I am not going to let them get away with it. My son's life has been taken away because they wanted to murder Diana because she wanted to be free... I will never stop until I find the truth."

Rod Liddle, the programme's editor, said that the piece was valid, even though it contained no new information. "What you got from this was hearing it in the context of [Mr Fayed's] mindset," he said.

"Whatever you feel about his views, the interview showed he is sincere about them. You can't ignore Mr Fayed - he is central to the case. It is his organisation which has been blamed for the death of the Princess of Wales and his own son.

"We had to run it at that length. To hear him say: `I am the father' over and over again was to understand how he felt," said Mr Liddle.

Martyn Gregory, author of Diana: The Last Days, which seeks to disprove Mr Fayed's claims, was interviewed on the same programme but not until half an hour later. He said: "I was pleased to be on the programme to try to counterbalance what I regard as regurgitated nonsense that I had read already in the US and French press.

"Mr Fayed's thesis is that it was everyone's fault except his or Dodi's. Now that the inquiry has found that the paparazzi did not kill her, he is looking for someone else to blame."

A BBC source said the interview, by John Humphrys, had made some journalists uncomfortable. "On the one hand, it was the first time he had spoken in the broadcast media since the French report came out. On the other, he had no evidence at all for the things he was saying."

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