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

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Business Development Manager / Sales

£30 - 40k (£65k Y1 OTE Uncapped): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Business Deve...

Guru Careers: Graduate Media Assistant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd give tax cuts to the rich, keep Trident, and get my football team wrong

Frankie Boyle
 

Election catch-up: Blairites for and against a Miliband victory

John Rentoul
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before