(Date Posted:22/06/2006 16:12:57)
Accident or Murder in Paris ( B )
It was self-evident to the Queen that Diana was wreaking havoc upon the public image of the Royals. After
consultations with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prime Minister the Queen ordered Diana and Charles to
divorce. Diana received a divorce settlement amounting to seventeen million pounds, but was stunned to learn
that she was to be deprived of the "Her Royal Highness" title. This mean act on the part of the Royals possibly
contributed to her death. Had she been permitted to retain her HRH title, the government of any nation in which
she was traveling would have been obligated to provide her with a VIP full police escort.
Diana first met Dodi Fayed in July, 1997, only a few weeks before her death. They first set eyes on each other
aboard the luxurious yacht Jonikal, which had just arrived at Cannes with Diana and her two sons aboard. The
yacht was owned by Dodi's father Mohamed. Mohamed al - Fayed later stated that Dodi had planned to celebrate
Bastille Day in Paris with his girlfriend, the American model Kelly Fisher, but changed his plans after his father
had requested that he join them to be an escort for Diana. Some journalists have implied that Mohamed al - Fayed
had a hidden agenda to marry his son off to Diana in order to ingratiate himself with the Windsors, who detested
him because of his political influence.
Had the couple married any sons that Diana bore would have been half-brothers to Prince William, heir to the
British throne. Mohamed al - Fayed had been a friend of Diana's father, the late Lord Spencer and had known
Diana for several years. This would have given him ample opportunity to match make anytime after Diana's
divorce, had he the inclination. In actuality, it was Diana who invited herself and her sons for a holiday with the
al - Fayed family, in all probability because she knew that being with the al - Fayeds would intensely annoy the
Diana and Dodi soon became inseparable, both on the yacht and later in Paris and London. The couple left
London on August 21st, to join the Jonikal for a cruise on the Cote d'Azur. Photos taken by the paparazzi
swarming around the sleek yacht revealed a radiant Diana very much in love with Dodi.
What sort of a person was Dodi? A few months after the tragic demise of the lovers, I had lunch with a person
who had been a member of Dodi's staff for almost a decade. I learned that although Dodi was a playboy who loved
beautiful women and fast cars, he displayed no overtly macho traits; rather he was a gentle and caring laid back
man - just the sort of man the lonely and insecure Diana would fall for. An event occurred during the cruise which
we will return to later in this narrative, since it may help to explain what happened on the night the couple died.
The yacht dropped anchor off Cap Ferrat and the lovers went sightseeing in Monaco. While ashore, they gave
their bodyguards the slip and went to the Repossi jewelry store in the Hermitage Hotel, where Dodi purchased an
engagement ring, leaving instructions for it to be forwarded to the Repossi store in Paris for collection the
following week. Although the couple obviously wanted time alone, evading their bodyguards was a very
dangerous thing to do considering Diana's fear of assassination.
In addition to being the heir to his father's immense fortune, Dodi himself had great wealth, possessing numerous
homes, yachts, cars, a helicopter and a Gulfstream IV executive jet, thus making him a possible kidnapping target
(his father invariably traveled with eight bodyguards). Saturday, August 30th, 1997, was the fateful day when
Diana and Dodi left the al - Fayed yacht which was anchored off the Sardinian coast, and flew to Paris, arriving at
Le Bourget airport Saturday afternoon. The couple intended to collect the engagement ring from the jewelers,
and return to London the following day. The lovers were greeted at the airport by Henri -Paul. Even though
Diana no longer had royal status, a fleet of police cars and motorcycle outriders provided by the French
diplomatic protection squad (the SPHP) were also in attendance in order to escort the couple to the Ritz hotel.
Due to Diana's fear of assassination by security forces, the couple decided to place their safety solely in the hands
of al - Fayed bodyguards and Dodi waved away the police escort. This was a fatal mistake, for the SPHP
personnel are highly trained police professionals. Had they been permitted to provide protection during the visit
to Paris, assassins and the very aggressive French paparazzi would have been kept at bay. After making the
aforementioned drive to the Villa Windsor, Diana went to the Ritz's hairdressing salon while Dodi visited
Repossi's to collect the emerald and diamond engagement ring. Dodi had already told his step-uncle Hussein
Yassin, who was at the Ritz for the weekend, that he and Diana were planning to marry. After returning to the
hotel, Dodi also telephoned the news to Hussein's niece Joumana.
The couple left the Ritz at seven o'clock for the drive to Dodi's apartment in order to dress for dinner, with
bodyguards Kez Wingfield and Trevor Rees-Jones following in Dodi's Land Rover - a clear security risk if the two
vehicles had become separated. Arriving at the apartment, a very frightened Diana was jostled by an overly
aggressive crowd of paparazzi. It was evident that the planned dinner at the "Chez Benoit" restaurant was out of
the question because of the paparazzi's reckless behavior, so the couple returned to the Ritz, where they had to
force their way through another frenzied crowd of paparazzi and had dinner in their sumptuous suite. Security
cameras revealed several men in the crowd outside the Ritz who had loitered in the vicinity for much of the day.
Former Scotland Yard Chief Superintendent John McNamara, who later was appointed by Mohamed al - Fayed
to head an investigation into the crash which ended the lives of the star crossed lovers, identified these loiterers
as members of British and foreign intelligence agencies.
Henri-Paul returned to the Ritz shortly after 10 p.m. after an absence of three hours and was asked to meet Dodi
in his suite for further instructions. After the meeting with Henri -Paul, Dodi notified the hotel night manager
Thierry Rocher, that the couple planned to return to Dodi's apartment for the night and instructed the night
manager to arrange for a limousine to be brought to the rear exit of the Ritz shortly after midnight. He explained
that Henri -Paul would drive them to the apartment and that the two limousines used earlier in the day were to
remain parked out front as decoys. Henri -Paul contacted bodyguards Trevor Rees-Jones and Kez Wingfield who
were waiting for further instructions and told the astounded pair that he would be driving Diana and Dodi back to
the apartment without bodyguards.
An incredulous and angry Trevor Rees-Jones made it abundantly clear that he couldn't tolerate such a dangerous
violation of security procedure. Dodi came out of his suite at that moment and confirmed Henri -Paul's
comments that bodyguards were not necessary for the short trip. Trevor Rees-Jones remained firm and Dodi
relented, agreeing that Trevor Rees-Jones could accompany them, but refused to permit a back-up vehicle to
follow. Wingfield later claimed that he then tried to reason with Dodi, pointing out that security would be
improved through the use of a back-up vehicle. Dodi remained intransigent, stating that his father had approved
the arrangement. Dodi's father later stated that he was unaware of the plan.
The black Mercedes S280 driven by Henri -Paul, with Diana and Dodi in the rear and Trevor Rees-Jones in the
front passenger seat, left from the back exit of the Ritz and proceeded at a normal speed along the rue Cambon,
then turned right onto the rue Castiglione. Meanwhile, the Mercedes 600 and Range Rover decoy vehicles left
from the front entrance of the Ritz for the five minute drive to Dodi's apartment. As the Mercedes conveying
Diana and Dodi drove away from the hotel, several photographers who had been monitoring the back entrance of
the Ritz alerted the paparazzi waiting outside the hotel's front entrance that the lovers had given them the slip,
prompting the paparazzi to belatedly give chase. Arriving at the Place de la Concorde, instead of turning right
onto the Champs Elysees as one normally would do to take the most direct route to Dodi's apartment, Henri -Paul
continued in a southerly direction towards the river Seine. Running a red traffic light, he rapidly accelerated and
entered the Cours la Reine freeway, leaving the pursuing paparazzi far behind. This particular freeway passes
through the Pont d'Alma tunnel where the fatal crash occurred.
It is a customary practice for professional bodyguards to refrain from wearing a seat belt so as not to restrict
their movements. Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, who occupied the front passenger seat, was observed to be not
wearing a seat belt when leaving the Ritz, yet inexplicably had fastened his prior to the crash. Had he fastened his
seat belt in order to avoid injury when he realized an attempt to crash the car was in progress? If this appears to
be highly improbable, then consider statements made by various eyewitnesses ...
Twenty-nine year old cook Eric Petel claims that he was the first person to reach the crash scene. According to
the Reuters News Service, Petel stated that he was traveling at seventy miles per hour on his motorcycle when
the Mercedes transporting Diana and Dodi overtook him while flashing its headlights. He was overtaken only
seconds before the Mercedes crashed. Petel claimed that he stopped at the crash scene, realized that the female
passenger was Diana, and then rode to the nearest police station to report the accident. Most interestingly, Petel
claimed that there was no other vehicle either in front of or behind the Mercedes at the time of the crash, nor had
any paparazzi arrived during the time that he was in the tunnel. Petel's account suggests that no other vehicle was
involved in the crash. This is totally at variance with the statements made to the police by other eyewitnesses and
the fact that the paparazzi were at most only a few hundred yards behind the Mercedes as it entered the tunnel. If
Petel was the only eyewitness to the event, he could have sold his account to the tabloids for a considerable sum
of money, yet he waited five months before going public with his story. Moreover, he released his account
exactly the same weekend that the book "Death of a Princess" was released. This book raised the possibility that
a motorcycle and a white Fiat Uno observed by other eyewitnesses were involved in the crash.
According to the police, damage at the crash scene demonstrated that another vehicle had been involved,
implying that Petel's story lacks credibility. Moreover, there is no record of Petel reporting the incident to the
police, suggesting that Petel's account was a fabrication perpetrated to misdirect attention away from the claim
made in the book "Death of a Princess" that other vehicles were involved in the crash. A married couple from
Rouen was later interviewed by the Rouen police. The husband stated that as he entered the tunnel, he saw in his
rear view mirror that the Mercedes was behind him with a motorcycle ridden by two persons on its left. The
motorcycle suddenly swerved in front of the car and there was a flash of light "like a searchlight." He then heard a
crash as he was exiting the tunnel. He stopped the car but his wife urged him to leave the crash scene, fearing
terrorists. Curiously, the husband later changed his story, claiming to the "Sunday People" newspaper that it was
he who had swerved in front of the motor cycle, thus causing the crash, although his wife still insisted that her
husband's first account was the correct version, which also is corroborated by other eyewitnesses.
According to fifty-three year old Francois Levy, he was ahead of the Mercedes in the Alma tunnel. There was a
motorcycle on the limousines' left, which pulled ahead, then swerved into the Mercedes' lane. Of crucial
importance is Levy's statement that as the motorcycle swerved and prior to the driver losing control of the
limousine, there was a flash of light. Levy said that he heard the crash as he was exiting the tunnel.
His story is corroborated by British secretary Brenda Wells, a resident of Champigny sur Marne, who was
returning to her residence after a party. She stated that: "A motorbike with two men forced me off the road. It
was following a big car. Afterwards in the tunnel there were very strong lights like flashes." She added that she
stopped her car at the crash scene and several men on motorcycles arrived and began taking photographs.
Jean-Pascal Peyret and his wife heard an impact followed by a loud crash as they were exiting the Alma tunnel.
He said that immediately after the crash his vehicle was overtaken by a motorcycle. When he reported the
incident to the police he was told that they were expecting him. This startling comment suggests that the
surveillance camera at the tunnel entrance was functioning, enabling the police to read Peyret's license plate,
thus contradicting the investigative team's claim that the camera wasn't working at the time of the crash. Two
off-duty chauffeurs who were standing near the tunnel entrance observed that Henri Paul down shifted in order
to overtake a car that was attempting to slow down the limousine. They also noticed a motor cycle in hot pursuit
of the Mercedes.
California businessman Gary Anderson was a passenger in a taxi that was overtaken by the Mercedes, which was
closely followed by two motorcycles. He stated that one of the motorcycles was being driven "aggressively and
dangerously." According to Anderson, the motorcycle overtook the limo then swerved in front of it.A chauffeur
and an engineer both told police that they witnessed two men on a motorcycle pursuing the Mercedes in a
dangerous manner as the limo was approaching the tunnel. In a newspaper interview, one witness said that he saw
a car deliberately force the limousine into the left hand lane as it entered the Alma tunnel. Another more detailed
account of the same incident was provided in the official statement of off duty police officer David Laurent. The
policeman was driving on the same freeway when a white Fiat Uno sped past him, heading in the same direction.
As he approached the Alma tunnel, he saw the same car moving very slowly, as if the driver was waiting for
At the time Henri -Paul lost control of the limousine, Dr. Frederic Mailliez was approaching the Alma tunnel in
the eastbound lanes. The doctor was employed by S.O.S. Medicins, an emergency medical service owned by
French insurance companies, and stopped at the crash scene where he administered oxygen to the injured Diana.
Mailliez later made conflicting statements to the news media concerning Diana's injuries, initially stating "She
looked pretty fine." During a CNN television interview he remarked "I thought this woman had a chance." A few
weeks later, when interviewed by the French medical magazine Impact Quotidien,he contradicted his earlier
statements, claiming "There was no way, no chance for her." This latter statement is at variance with the
comment made by Dr. Jean-Marc Martino, who was in charge of the ambulance crew that transported Diana to
hospital. He stated that he considered her condition as: "severe but not critical." Diana allegedly underwent two
heart attacks between the time of the crash and her arrival at the hospital. Unlike ambulances typically used in
most countries, the ambulances of the French emergency service SAMU are actually sophisticated mobile
surgical units. It would therefore be readily apparent to the ambulance crew attending to Diana's injuries that a
heart specialist would be required after her arrival at the hospital. Incredibly, despite radio communication
between the ambulance crew and the hospital staff, no heart specialist was present when the ambulance finally
arrived at the hospital, nor had a heart lung machine been prepared ready for Diana's surgery if required!
Still, French authorities had found time to summon French politicians, police and British ambassador Sir Michael
Jay to the hospital prior to the arrival of the ambulance. Inexplicably, one hour and forty six minutes elapsed
between the time of the crash and the arrival of the ambulance at the hospital. The cause of Diana's death was
attributed to a ruptured pulmonary vein which resulted in massive internal bleeding. Physicians in numerous
nations later heavily condemned the ambulance crew for taking such an inordinate amount of time to transport
Diana to the hospital, which only entailed a four mile journey. Had she been transported sooner, they claimed,
her chances of survival would have been good. Dr. Patrick Goldstein, a vice president of SAMU, defended the
ambulance crew's actions, claiming: "Diana had no chance of making it." Perhaps Dr. Goldstein is unaware that
President Ronald Reagan, like Diana, also sustained a damaged pulmonary vein when he was shot, yet survived
due to the expeditious manner in which he was rushed to hospital! (Continued on next page.)