Fayed Diana claim is denied

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The Independent Online
Did the Princess of Wales speak before she died? The hospital that tried to save her says no. Mohamed Al Fayed said yes. Jojo Moyes and John Lichfield discover that the events of 31 August are unlikely to become any less opaque. The Paris hospital which treated Diana, Princess of Wales, yesterday flatly contradicted claims by Mohamed Al Fayed that the Princess uttered dying words and requests.

A spokesman for the Hospital Pitie Salpetriere described any suggestion that the Princess could even talk as "a gross error". Thierre Meresse said the Princess never regained consciousness after being admitted in the early hours of 31 August.

"I can tell you she never regained consciousness from the minute she was admitted to the hospital," said Mr Meresse. "There were no last words."

Asked how such a mistake could have occurred Mr Meresse said: "You had better ask Mr Al Fayed."

The revelation backs statements made by the Princess's family, who say the idea that she could make a request was "preposterous". It also backs up medical evidence that Diana never regained consciousness after the crash, and effectively died 20 minutes later.

It contradicts Mr Fayed, owner of Harrods and father of Dodi Fayed who also died in the crash. On the eve of Diana's funeral, Mr Al Fayed's spokesman, Michael Cole, told a press conference: "While he was in Paris on Sunday, Mr Fayed was approached by someone whom I may not name but who helped the Princess during her final hours. That person vouchsafed to Mr Fayed the Princess's final words and requests."

Yesterday Mr Cole was sticking to that story. He said Mr Fayed had been the first person to arrive at the hospital from Britain, and that he was introduced to the mystery person by a third party. "The words were so specific that they were believable," said Mr Cole. "They were conveyed by Mr Fayed to the appropriate person." When asked how his story came to contradict even that put out by the Princess's family, Mr Cole replied: "All I can say is that Mohamed Al Fayed acted straightforwardly and in good faith."

1 Donations to charity by the public are continuing to fall despite the "Princess Diana effect", according to a report by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. Total donations are down by 20 per cent on the 1993 figure.

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