CCTV footage suggests Henri Paul tipped off paparazzi about Diana's movements

Law Editor,Robert Verkaik
Sunday 18 September 2011 21:13

The driver of the Mercedes in which Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed, were killed in a Paris road tunnel 10 years ago met the French paparazzi five times in the hours before the fatal car crash, the inquest into the couple's deaths was told yesterday.

Previously unseen CCTV footage shown to the jury also shows Henri Paul signalling to two French photographers minutes before he leads Diana and Dodi out of the back entrance of The Ritz hotel in Paris and into a waiting vehicle.

The pictures cast doubt on the long-held belief that the hordes of paparazzi waiting outside the hotel had been acting without any help from inside the hotel.

The new footage was seized on by Mohamed Al Fayed's barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, who cross-examined a Metropolitan Police officer who had worked with Lord Stevens on his report into the car crash.

Mr Mansfield asked Inspector Paul Carpenter whether it was correct that M. Paul went into the square where the photographers were gathered five times in just one-and-a-half hours.

The officer replied: "Yes, sir"

Insp Carpenter also confirmed to the court that Mr Paul had waved at the photographers within minutes of the couple's departure. He said that one of those men, sitting in his car close to where the couple would later exit the hotel, was in contact with other paparazzi.

Insp Carpenter had earlier explained to the jury: "You will see Henri Paul exit into Rue Cambon [at the back of the hotel] and when you watch this sequence you will see him raise his hand as if waving to the paparazzi across the road. If you look at the paparazzi across the road you will see one of them raises his camera . . . Jacques Langevin."

He added: "What he is doing is focusing on the doorway. That is why Henri Paul waves."

Mr Al Fayed contends that M. Paul was working for MI6 and played a crucial role in the alleged murder of Diana and his son.

The CCTV pictures released yesterday show M. Paul was instrumental in planning an elaborate ruse to trick the paparazzi into believing the couple would be leaving by the front entrance of the hotel. Two decoy vehicles left at the same time as the couple's car in an attempt to put the photographers off the scent.

Pictures also pick up M. Paul visiting the hotel bar on two separate occasions during the evening, although no cameras are in the bar to show whether he consumed any alcohol there.

Mr Al Fayed believes M. Paul, deputy head of security at The Ritz, was set up by MI6 to show that he was a drunk driver. Samples taken from his body show that he had consumed twice the UK legal drink-drive limit.

Earlier, the jury was shown CCTV footage of Dodi and the holding hands in the moments before they left the hotel.

The couple appear to be entwined while they wait for M. Paul to give them the order to leave. Diana, who, at one stage in the elevator is seen carrying Dodi's cigar box, salutes Mr Paul while he is speaking to them in the service area at the back of the hotel.

Moments later, the doors open and a photographer can be seen standing in front of the door. Then the group, including Diana's bodyguard, Trevor Rees Jones, are seen leaving for the last time. The hearing continues next week when the jury will visit the scene of the crash in Paris .