Leading article: The awkward questions have not gone away

Share
Related Topics

No one likes to be labelled a conspiracy theorist. The term is generally associated with the sort of people who believe the world is run by aliens disguised as humans, or who think the moon landing was a hoax. But it is very important that we do not allow our desire to avoid pejorative labels blunt our critical faculties. Scepticism can be a healthy instinct.

It is unfortunate that most vocal critics of the standard narrative regarding the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed - which was outlined again by Lord Stevens's report yesterday - have not been impartial or, in some cases, credible. This has added to the impression that anyone who believes there are unanswered questions regarding the deaths is foolish, opportunist or both. But this impression is unfair. Whatever one thinks about the quality of the debate on the circumstances leading up to that car crash in Paris, those continuing to ask awkward questions should not all be dismissed out of hand.

Despite the detailed nature of the 832-page report by the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, a good deal remains unclear. Lord Stevens admits himself that "there are some matters about which we may never find a definitive answer". And there remains enough doubt for rational people to feel uncomfortable. According to a recent poll, a third of the British public believe what happened to Diana was not an accident. This cannot be written off as a fringe belief.

The question of whether anyone had the motive to murder the couple remains unresolved. The report says there is no reason to believe Diana and Mr Fayed were preparing to marry. Mr Fayed's father maintains that there was. But, in any case, this does not alter the fact that the circumstances of the crash itself remain suspicious. A white Fiat Uno was reported as having collided with Diana's car shortly before the fatal crash. No driver came forward to admit involvement. Nor was the car itself ever located. Yet James Andason, a French photographer who had been following Diana and Mr Fayed all summer, was known to own a white Fiat Uno. It was sold and re-sprayed days after the accident. Three years later Andason committed suicide.

Lord Stevens confirmed yesterday that there was indeed a glancing contact to Mr Fayed's Mercedes from a white Fiat Uno as it entered the underpass. But he said he was satisfied that it did not belong to Mr Andason, whose wife claims he was at home on the night in question. We have to take her word for this because all of the closed circuit television cameras monitoring the underpass - which might have supported this alibi - inexplicably failed to record the incident. Does any of this prove that the crash was not an accident? No. But it casts doubt on the assumption that it certainly was.

Many have dismissed the activities of Mohamed al-Fayed over the past decade as those of a father driven out of his mind by grief for his son, Dodi. Lord Stevens hinted at this again yesterday. No doubt the bereaved father is still grieving. But that does not make him deluded. And we should remember that without his campaigning, this inquiry would probably never have been established. Two eyewitnesses, missed by the original French police investigation, were uncovered by the Stevens inquiry. Thanks to Mr Fayed important evidence has entered the public domain. For his persistence in getting at the truth, Mr Fayed deserves credit, not the derision heaped on him from some quarters.

What took place in the Pont De L'Alma underpass on 31 August 1997, might very well have been a "tragic accident", as Lord Stevens describes it. But we should beware the assumption that all the circumstances of this case have now been fully explained and all the loose ends neatly tied up.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
It's not only the British who haven't been behaving well abroad; pictured here are German fans celebrating their team's latest victory  

Holiday snaps that bite back: What happens in Shagaluf no longer stays in Shagaluf

Ellen E Jones
Simon Laird (left) and Sister Simon Laird, featured in the BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets  

Estates of the nation: Let's hear it for the man in the street

Simmy Richman
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?