The shots were said to have been taken just after the Mercedes saloon carrying Diana and Dodi Fayed crashed in a tunnel after being chased by photographers on motorcycles. French police arrested seven of them, but not before rolls of film had been taken away, according to sources.
Within hours of the fatal accident the editor of the American supermarket tabloid National Enquirer was being offered the pictures. Steve Coz said: "Right now, they are trying to sell them for about $1m." He urged editors of other publications to join him in boycotting the photographs.
But that plea is likely to fall on deaf ears, according to those who know the Royal market well. Mark Saunders, a "pap" who followed Diana for five years, said he has heard the asking price was pounds 200,000 to pounds 250,000: "Yes there will be buyers. Not in this country, but in Europe. Whoever has got these pictures will make a hell of a lot of money. I have been told they are already on the market."
But those involved in the business say it would be impossible to expect the paparazzi to put away their motor drives, fold away the ladders and disappear. The rewards are too great.
The news of Diana's affair with Dodi Fayed was broken by a cruising Italian paparazzo, Mario Brenna. He had spotted the Princess on board the Fayed yacht Jonikal, off St Tropez, embracing a man. He was not sure of the man's identity but knew he had hit the jackpot.
Mr Brenna, a comparatively small time operator, turned for help to London- based Jason Fraser. It was Mr Fraser who quickly identified Dodi and organised the sale of the photographs in Britain. Picture editors of a number of tabloids were invited to a viewing, said to be with an entry fee of pounds 1,000 each, before being asked to make offers. The Sunday Mirror paid around pounds 250,000 for the first rights, and the Daily Mail and The Sun pounds 100,000 apiece for the second rights. International sales followed.
Two weeks later Mr Fraser was himself behind the camera to take a new set of pictures of Diana and Dodi on the Jonikal which were sold to The Sun for around pounds 40,000.
Mr Fraser presents the smooth acceptable face of the paparazzi. Half Greek, half Scottish, educated at the Lycee in London, he is fluent in French, Italian and Greek. He has not always been involved with the glitterati. He got the first photo of Colonel Gadaffi after the US bombing of Tripoli, and was also the first inside The Herald of Free Enterprise, the ferry that capsized at Zeebrugge, after the accident.
He is said to have contacts among the Establishment, including some of the younger Royals. He likes to work by himself, with his wife, the former News of the World hackette Morven Kinlay, helping to run the business side. He says: "I like to be able to sleep at night. I would also never do to anybody what I wouldn't want done to myself. I don't do people who are mourning or grieving, I wouldn't dream of photographing someone in hospital, I don't trespass or photograph on private property".
Mr Fraser is part of an oligopoly of seven or eight photographers who have carved up the trade in photos of the rich and famous across the world, and handle each other's material. Their annual income is said to be between pounds 300,000 and pounds 500,00.
Mark Saunders and and his partner Glen Harvey had stalked Princess Diana for five years. Six months ago she approached them at a Sainsbury's car park near her gym, the Harbour Club in south-west London, complained bitterly and asked them to leave her alone.
Mr Saunders, 33, said: "We agreed to do so. Frankly I had enough of the whole thing, and the fun had begun to wear off. She was under tremendous pressure at the time, and there was always the fear she would crack. She had been a goldmine for the paps, people had made fortunes from her. There is simply no one to replace her."Reuse content