Diana: French police say blood samples were not 'mixed up'

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The Independent Online

A senior French police officer has denied that the wrong blood sample was used in a French inquiry which concluded that Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed by a drunk driver.

Inspector Jean-Claude Mules, who played a central role in the French investigation into the crash which killed Diana and Dodi Fayed, hit back at reports that there was a mix-up over specimens taken from the chauffeur, Henri Paul.

"There was no error over the blood," said Mr Mules who is now retired but was present when the two samples were taken from Mr Paul's body. "We are very serious people and no errors are allowed."

Yesterday, Scotland Yard refused to comment on a story in a national newspaper that senior British police officers have doubts over the authenticity of Mr Paul's blood sample. It is understood there are "high-level concerns" over the specimen and that French police have not carried out a DNA test which would prove the blood came from Mr Paul.

Doubts over the validity of the blood sample would threaten the credibility of the French inquiry, which concluded Mr Paul, high on a cocktail of drink and drugs, lost control of the Mercedes car while speeding in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel.

Diana, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, and Mr Paul died in the crash on 31 August 1997. Mr Paul's family and Dodi's father, Mohamed al-Fayed, have repeatedly drawn attention to the level of carbon monoxide in Mr Paul's sample. It was said to be so high that he would have struggled to walk, let alone drive a car.

The Harrods boss has long claimed that the blood samples were swapped by British and French intelligence agents to cover up murder. One theory is that the blood sample used in the French inquiry came from the corpse of someone poisoned by carbon monoxide, which is commonly found in car exhausts and household fires.

This latest development comes only days after inquests into the deaths of Diana and Dodi were opened and adjourned by the Coroner of the Royal Household, Michael Burgess. He has asked Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens to look into speculation that the deaths were not the result of a "straightforward, road traffic accident".

Scotland Yard said yesterday that Sir John Stevens is expected to meet up with Mr Burgess "in the near future" to discuss the timescale of the inquiry and exactly what he wishes the Met to investigate.

A tabloid newspaper published last week a letter in which the princess claimed "my husband" was plotting to kill her. Prince Charles is understood to have met with Sir John Stevens to discuss the Met's investigation into the death of his former wife.

The full inquest into the death of Diana is not expected to begin until 2005 at the earliest, to allow the coroner time to decide which of the thousands of documents relating to the case he will make public at the inquest.

Earlier this month, this paper revealed that medical reports relating to the case surrounding the death of Diana state that she was pregnant when she died.

A senior police source in France implied that Diana's pregnancy was hushed up to spare the embarrassment of her family. It was not mentioned at the end of the two-year judicial investigation into the crash because it was not relevant to the causes of the accident or to her death.

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