Diana inquiry: Fayed insults Diana's mother

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MOHAMED Al Fayed insulted the mother of Diana, Princess of Wales, outside a courtroom in Paris yesterday, telling journalists that she was an "English snob".

The multimillionaire owner of Harrods said that Frances Shand Kydd, Diana's mother, had refused to talk to "a working-class guy" like him.

Mr Fayed and Mrs Shand Kydd were in Paris as observers at a meeting called by the judge investigating the road accident that killed Diana and her companion, Mr Fayed's son Dodi, in Paris last August.

"People like her are on another planet," Mr Fayed said. "She's a snob. It's English snobbery ... If she thinks she is a member of the Royal Family and should have nothing to do with ordinary people like me, it's up to her. I'm just a working-class guy." His outburst came during a break in a "general confrontation" at the Palais de Justice in Paris between 10 eyewitnesses to the crash - nine press photographers and one despatch rider arrested at the scene. The 10 face possible charges of manslaughter and callous behaviour.

Earlier, Mr Fayed had praised the hearing and the "excellent" investigating judge, Herve Stephan. When he emerged during the afternoon, he said the meeting was going nowhere. He said the photographers were "vultures" who were mostly responsible for the crash. If he was not in a court-room, he would "hang them all".

Members of Diana's family have been upset by previous remarks made by Mr Fayed, in which he claimed that her dying words were passed to him by a nurse at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris. French medical authorities said the story was impossible: Diana was unable to speak by the time she reached the hospital.

Earlier this week, Mr Fayed told an ITV documentary that he had spoken to Diana by telephone on the night of her death; he said that Diana had told him that she and Dodi planned to announce their engagement the following week.

However, friends of the Princess have stated that she had no intention of rushing into another marriage after her unhappy experience in the previous marriage.

Mr Fayed had also claimed that he had been informed about the last words spoken by Diana after the crash. But in a Channel 4 documentary broadcast on Thursday evening an adviser to the French interior minister categorically denied this.