The main players in a tragic story: what we now know
Terry Kirby examines the roles of the principal characters in the long-awaited Stevens Report
Friday 15 December 2006
Diana, Princess of Wales
Not only was Diana, Princess of Wales, not murdered, but she was also neither pregnant nor planning to become engaged to Dodi Fayed, the Stevens inquiry report concludes.
After extensive interviews with her friends, such as Rosa Monckton, wife of journalist Dominic Lawson, Lady Annabel Goldsmith and journalist Richard Kay of the Daily Mail, there was "overwhelming evidence" that she was not pregnant. Although he said some of the evidence was so personal it would not be made public, "there is witness evidence from close friends and others that the Princess of Wales in mid-August 1997 was in her normal menstrual cycle. There is witness evidence that she was using contraception". The inquiry also conducted tests on blood, confirmed as hers and recovered from the carpet of the Mercedes car, for signs of the pregnancy hormone HGC - human chorionic gonadotropin - and none were found.
He concludes: "The evidence: pathological, scientific, medical and anecdotal showed that the Princess of Wales was not pregnant."
Similarly, although there was evidence that Dodi Fayed had selected a ring nothing supported the idea that she had previously chosen a ring with him, which was being altered to fit, that she had agreed to get married and it would be announced the following Monday. The Princess, according to telephone conversations with friends had said she needed marriage again, "like a rash on the face".
The report also sheds further light on the note seen by Paul Burrell, her butler, in which Diana, apparently claimed the Prince of Wales, was planning an accident in her car in order to marry. An extract from the note, apparently left for Burrell to read said: "This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous, my husband is planning an 'accident' in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for Charles to marry."
Friends said they had no knowledge of its origins and cast doubt on it.
The report stated: "The Princess did name a woman in her note. It was not Camilla Parker Bowles. Operation Paget knows the identity of the woman named." The report says Prince Charles only knew the woman as a family friend.
It also details how the Princess told her legal representative, the late Lord Mishcon, in a meeting in October 1995 her fears that she and Camilla would be targeted. She claimed "reliable sources" had said that efforts would be made to get rid of her (the Princess) - possibly in a car accident, Lord Mishcon said he did not believe what she was saying was credible.
The report found no evidence to support her claims. "This evidence, taken together, may be an indication of how unhappy the Princess of Wales was in late 1995."
Dodi Fayed may well have been intending to propose to Diana on the night of the car crash, the report concludes. But following interviews with bodyguards and other staff, as well as the jewellers themselves, the Paget report comprehensively rejects the suggestion that the Princess and Dodi had already chosen their ring in Monte Carlo earlier that summer and it has been altered to fit.
There was evidence supported by CCTV evidence, that Dodi had selected a ring from the "Tell Me Yes" range at the Repossi jewellers in Paris, and that it was at his apartment in the Rue Arsene Houssaye, where the couple had been heading the report said.
Suggestions by Mohammed Fayed that the couple had told him by telephone that there were going to be engaged and that an announcement was due the following Monday could not be confirmed, but the report adds: "The weight of evidence is that the Princess of Wales was not intending to get engaged or married to Dodi al Fayed... those involved in the daily organisation of the Princess of Wales' life were... unaware of any engagement or announcement. An announcement of this magnitude by the Princess of Wales would have required some preplanning, of which there was no evidence.
The report spends over 200 pages detailing the background to the chauffeur's role, his movements on the night and his personal life in an attempt to settle claims that he had a drinking problem, unexplained wealth and worked as a security service informant.
Although his friends and associates said that he never appeared drunk, there was evidence that he liked a regular drink and feared that he was alcohol dependent, for which he had been prescribed a drug given to help alcoholics abstain. While none of that was in his system at the time of death, two other drugs, Fluoxetine and Tiapride, which comes with warnings about operating machinery and driving, were found. Additionally, although he was only seen to consume two Ricards after returning to the Ritz hotel that night and showed no visible signs of being drunk, tests showed he was around twice the legal limit for driving at the time of the crash.
Although there was no evidence to confirm reports that he worked for British intelligence, he was, says the report, a "low level informant" for the French secret services and the police, a relatively normal situation for a person in his position.
Questions remain about how he was able to deposit around £43,000 in accounts in the months before his death or had an unexplained £1,200 in cash on him when he died. The report concludes: "Although these amounts were inconsistent with his salary, they were not so large as to be conclusive of Henri Paul's involvement in illicit or clandestine activity." Large cash tips from wealthy clients were also common at The Ritz.
One of the most intriguing conspiracy theories concerns James Andanson, a French photographer who had taken pictures previously of the Princess and who was alleged to have been the driver of a white Fiat Uno which collided with the Mercedes in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel. The car has still not been traced.
Andanson's body was found in a black, burnt-out BMW in a forest in the south of France in 2000; Mohamed Fayed later alleged that Andanson was working for the security services and murdered to prevent him from going public.
The Paget report discloses that Andanson was not even in Paris on the night of the deaths and was at home with his wife in Lignieres, 170 miles to the south of Paris . And while he had owned a white Fiat Uno, tests showed that paint flecks on the Mercedes could not have come from it.
An official French inquiry concluded he had committed suicide, although the Paget report discloses that when the car was found, his body was in the driver's seat of the car, but his head had been detached and lay between the front seats. There was also a hole in his left temple. The French pathologist concluded this was due to the intense heat of the fire.
The Paget report concluded there was no evidence "whatsoever" to support the assertion that Andanson was murdered.
The inquiry tracked down two new witnesses to events in the tunnel on the night of August 30 1997. Brian Anderson, an American, was in a taxi which was overtaken by the Mercedes driven at high speed by Henri Paul and followed by three motorcylists a foot or so behind.
One of the motorbikes swerved as it tried to pull alongside the back windows of Mercedes. "I remember at this point saying to the taxi driver 'the guy's fucking crazy'" he told the inquiry, adding: "The bikes were in a cluster, like a swarm around the Mercedes."
He describes seeing a bright light in the tunnel, just a fraction of a second before hearing the crash: "I was looking to the right; I caught the flash out of the extreme corner of my left eye. It hit me on the left of my face. At first I thought it may have been a camera flash but I now feel it had a far greater intensity... The flash happened before the impact and the sound of the impact. There was stuff in the air that had a sort of red glow, best described as sparks." He adds: "There was the visual flash, the sound of something hitting something, a bang, then something screeching, I assumed tyres but it could have been metal."
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