Dominic Lawson: The only conspiracy over Diana's death was Fayed's bid to manipulate the British public

Share
Related Topics

So there really was a conspiracy surrounding the circumstances of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. That much has finally been made clear at the conclusion of an inquest which has lasted six months and heard evidence from more than 250 witnesses.

The conspiracy that has been revealed is not, however, the one which has captivated the weirdos of the blogosphere – and many others – for the past decade. As the coroner, Lord Justice Scott-Baker, told the jury, in all those months they had heard "not a scrap of evidence that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered Diana's execution [or] that the Secret Intelligence Service or any other Government agency organised it."

Yet there was a conspiracy to cover up the true circumstances of Diana's death and that of her boyfriend Dodi Fayed – a tragic accident involving an intoxicated and over-excited driver (an employee of Mohamed Fayed's Paris Ritz) hotly pursued by a cavalcade of adrenalin-fuelled paparazzi. Instead, Mr Fayed, the billionaire owner of Britain's most vulgar department store, conceived what amounted to a gigantic deception: to persuade the public that Diana's death was no accident – still less the result of any inadequacies on the part of his own employees.

The conspiracy involved framing the Duke of Edinburgh as a man so enraged at the thought that his ex-daughter-in law would marry a Muslim that he would have both of them murdered. In time, the conspiracy of alleged agents of the Duke would spread to include (in no particular order) Tony Blair, the late Robin Cook, Diana's own sister, Sarah, and the entire French medical team on the night of the accident.

Aided by his superficially respectable spin-doctor, Michael Cole, Mr Fayed had remarkable success in persuading elements of the tabloid press, notably the Daily Express, to give the conspiracy a fair wind.

Yet it was all based on lies – as detailed questioning under oath in Lord Scott-Baker's courtroom ruthlessly exposed. The employee given primary responsibility for "discovering" the Royal Family's involvement in a calculating and savage double murder was John Macnamara, a former police superintendent who had become Mr Fayed's "security chief". The hard-faced Macnamara must have made many people "crack" in his time, but it was he who cracked in the courtroom.

After much wriggling, he finally admitted that he had lied to the BBC, among other broadcasters, when he said he "knew" Henri Paul had not been drinking on the night of the crash; in fact he had been in possession of M. Paul's Ritz bar bill on the night in question, which showed that the driver had consumed two Ricards (the alcoholic equivalent of four single whiskys).

To be fair to John Macnamara, he was not the inventor of the main elements in the conspiracy, designed to establish a "motive" for the murder of Diana and Dodi – that they had already agreed to get married and that she was pregnant with his child. The latter claim began to be put by Mr Fayed only in 2001 – via the Daily Express: suddenly he began to insist that Diana had told him this extraordinary news on the night of her death.

As Lord Justice Scott-Baker instructed the jury, with some delicacy: "You will have to decide whether Mohamed Fayed is telling the truth about the pregnancy conversation. If he is, it is strange that he sat on this important information for three-and-a-quarter years. It is also difficult to believe how, if the information that Diana was pregnant was only available in a telephone call for the first time an hour or so before the collision, it could have any relevance to the collision."

Even if this was not a grotesque lie by Mohamed Fayed, I have never been able to understand how anyone but the most malign fantasists could assert that the Royal Family would be motivated to order the murder of a Diana pregnant with a "half-Muslim child". Leave aside all issues of common decency and plausibility – although these do matter – why should anyone in the Royal Family even have had murderous thoughts at such a prospect?

Diana had already been cut adrift from the House of Windsor – she had been dramatically stripped of her royal title. The Royal Family, in so far as it can even have a collective thought, might well have been delighted at the prospect of the troublesome Diana leaving Britain for good to live in Beverly Hills with Dodi Fayed – the future scenario outlined by Mr Fayed Senior.

It is, in fact, just another fantasy by Mohamed Fayed that the Royal Family wanted nothing to do with him, or even despised him. Long after successive British Home Secretaries had denied Mr Fayed a British passport (on the understandable grounds of "bad character"), the House of Windsor had been happy to consort with the Harrods owner.

Prince Philip had wined and dined with him, picking up the odd cheque for his pet project, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme; for year after year, the Queen had Mr Fayed sitting next to her at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, in return for his generous sponsorship.

That sponsorship ended only – at the urging of the Royal Family's own advisers – some time after Diana's death, and it was only in 2000 that the Duke of Edinburgh removed his Royal Warrant from Harrods. In both cases, one wonders why Mr Fayed was prepared to continue his commercial relationships with a family he thought had ordered the murder of his son. Business is business, I know, but this is ridiculous.

The truth is that, while masquerading as the voice of the ordinary people of Britain against the privileged royal establishment, Mr Fayed is completely obsessed with social status. This facet of his character emerged on the day he took the witness stand, when he ridiculed the idea that the Princess of Wales would ever have married her long-term lover, Dr Hasnat Khan, saying: "How can she marry someone like that, who lives in a council flat and has no money?"

I was in court that day, and I thought I could detect a look of bewilderment on some of the jurors' faces, when Mr Fayed so snobbishly dismissed the suitability of a respectable heart surgeon.

Mohamed Fayed at least promised, under questioning during the inquest, that he would accept the verdict of the inquest jury, whatever it is. It would be good if he sticks to that pledge, made explicitly under oath. Of course, conspiracy theorists in the wider world can continue to proclaim their adherence to the legend that Diana was murdered by "the Establishment".

Perhaps they believe that, in so doing, they are showing themselves not to be gullible, that they are not the sort of people to be duped by anyone, no matter how powerful.

In fact, they are – and always have been – the naïve victims of a conspiracy of lies spun at vast cost by a bereaved billionaire. If they don't realise it now, they never will.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Polish minister Rafal Trazaskowski (second from right)  

Poland is open to dialogue but EU benefits restrictions are illegal and unfair

Rafal Trzaskowski
The report will embarrass the Home Secretary, Theresa May  

Surprise, surprise: tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have 'dropped off' the Home Office’s radar

Nigel Farage
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie