Crash judge leaves theorising Fayed empty-handed

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The Independent Online
MOHAMED AL FAYED raises his hands as he leaves a French court yesterday under the protection of gendarmes, writes Kate Watson-Smyth.

Mr Fayed had met Judge Herve Stephan who is investigating the deaths of Mr Al Fayed's son Dodi, and Diana, Princess of Wales, and who is said to have been furious about the Harrods owner's claims of a conspiracy in the accident.

Judge Stephan was reported to be questioning Mr Fayed about his theories, his privately funded parallel investigation into the accident and why Paul, who was three times over the French drinking limit, had been allowed to drive that night

The meeting at the Palais de Justice came as it emerged that the Ritz hotel tried to stop staff talking to police about Henri Paul's drinking "for the benefit of the Royal Family".

A report in L'Express magazine claimed that a barman at L'Espadon, where Mr Paul and Trevor Rees-Jones, the sole survivor, had been waiting for the couple on the night of the crash, said he saw the driver staggering as he left.

The next day, the barman claimed a senior executive at the Ritz, owned by Mr Al Fayed, told him to tell police that Mr Paul had drunk only fruit juice. Patrice Lanceleur said: "He asked me to maintain the fruit juice version of events for the benefit of the Royal Family."

Last night a statement released by Harrods said that Mr Al Fayed had not been summoned to Paris but had asked to meet the judge. Mr Fayed's lawyer, Georges Keijman, said a request was made for "additional investigations" into the theory that the couple's car collided with another vehicle, possibly a white Fiat, before slamming into the 13th pillar of the Pont L'Alma tunnel. He said that Mr Fayed had been "satisfied by everything explained to him" by the judge.