Bodyguard cannot remember the night Diana died

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The bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones (right) can remember nothing of the car accident which killed Diana, Princess of Wales, in Paris three weeks ago, it emerged yesterday.

In a half-hour interview with the chief investigating judge, Mr Rees- Jones was unable to give any useful new information on the events leading to the crash in the early hours of 31 August.

Although the former paratrooper may still recover some memory of the night's events, his present amnesia is a serious blow to the investigation into Diana's death. It was hoped that Mr Rees-Jones, 29, the only survivor of the crash, might provide early answers to the two, great outstanding questions. Did the driver, Henri Paul, show any obvious signs of the large quantities of drink, and at least two prescription drugs he had taken that night? Did the Mercedes, in which Diana's party was travelling, strike or swerve to avoid another car before colliding with a central reservation pillar in an underpass beside the Seine?

All details of the judge's investigation are supposed to be strictly secret under French law. But within half an hour of the judge leaving the hospital Pitie Salpetriere, sources close to the investigation told the French news agency Agence France Presse that Mr Rees-Jones was suffering from amnesia. Further interviews would be arranged, the sources said, but the first meeting had yielded no useful information.

It remains unclear whether Mr Rees-Jones, who suffered grave facial injuries, has yet recovered his powers of speech.

The Paris newspaper, France-Soir, yesterday splashed on its front page a picture, taken from the Internet, purporting to show Diana lying in the wreckage of the Mercedes just after the accident. The picture was dismissed by the city's emergency services and sources in the investigation as a fake. Ambulancemen or policemen, vaguely visible in the picture, are wearing British-style uniforms.

The Prince of Wales yesterday spoke for the first time in public about the grief experienced by his two sons and himself after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. "I think [the princes] are handling a very difficult time with enormous courage and greatest possible dignity," he told businessmen and community leaders in Manchester at the first public engagement since the death of his former wife. His words brought heartfelt applause and words of approval.