Letter: The Fayeds, like the Windsors and Spencers, deserve peace

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Henry Porter accuses me of "shameless opportunism" on the day of the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed, both of whom I knew and admired ("The outsider...", 7 September).

Allow me to answer this serious charge. During a live TV interview I was asked what Dodi's father was doing in Paris. I replied that Mr Al Fayed was trying to make arrangements to bring his son to Britain for burial because although he was denied a British passport, he considered Britain his home and wanted his son to be near him. That was a simple statement of fact and explanation. Indeed, Dodi was buried later that day near the family home in Surrey.

What is opportunism is the commissioning of the London editor of a magazine which is in a libel action with Mr Al Fayed - Vanity Fair - to write a profile of him. This is compounded by a number of errors.

The House of Lords appeal by the Home Office in Mr Al Fayed's naturalisation case does not come up "next month" but at the end of February.

It is not true that the refusal of a passport "ate at his soul". It is true that Mr Al Fayed would like to share the citizenship of his four British children but overwhelmingly, it is a matter of commercial convenience; without an EC passport he repeatedly has to obtain visas for business trips in Europe.

Mr Al Fayed does not want "to conquer and kick ass" - an expression he would never use although accused of using "perplexing" language by Mr Porter - and the suggestion that he contributed to Dodi's "wooing of Diana" is inane. He is a remarkable man but his powers do not extend to making those exceptional, star-bright people fall in love with each other, which appears to be what happened.

I have never said that "Dodi had renounced his life as a producer" and I challenge Mr Porter to provide contradictory evidence; nor did I disclose information about the ring Dodi bought for the Princess; the information apparently came from a London insurance broking house requested to cover it.

Yes, Mr Al Fayed will respond to the outcome of the inquiry in France if required and will do so as he acted throughout, with dignity and restraint in the face of heartbreaking circumstances. His interest is only in establishing the truth of what happened that night.

With regard to the article about me ("Silky voice..."), it is a matter of deep and everlasting regret to me that details of my private conversation about the Queen's Christmas broadcast in 1987 were leaked by two people who were present, Andrew Morton of the Daily Star and Ashley Walton of the Daily Express but I did not deliberately make the disclosures.

Michael Cole

Harrods, London SW1

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