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Who killed Henri Paul?

Both Al-Fayed’s mad conspiracy theories and the court’s official verdict miss who was ultimately responsible for the crash in Paris: Dodi and Diana.

Rob Lyons
Columnist

Topics Politics

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The verdict of the jury at the inquest into the death of Princess Diana, announced yesterday, has placed most of the blame for the deaths of Diana and Dodi Fayed on to the shoulders of their driver that night, the deputy head of security at The Ritz, Henri Paul.

According to evidence from various inquiries and court appearances, Paul was well over the legal limit to drive. Apparently this negligence, combined with his reckless speed, was the major factor in causing the fatal accident.

However, Henri Paul was not a chauffeur. The two real chauffeurs were at the front of The Ritz acting as decoys while Dodi and Di were slipped out the back to be driven away by Paul. As we know, the plan was a complete failure as the paparazzi cottoned on immediately. As another Fayed bodyguard told reporter Martyn Gregory: ‘It was the best plan Dodi ever had and it was crap.’ (1)

At every stage of the plan, Dodi Fayed was in charge. It was Dodi who pulled Paul away from his evening of drinking in the hotel. Not being a chauffeur, there was little reason for him to expect to have to drive. But he was hardly going to argue with his boss’ son when – apparently with Mohammed Al Fayed’s approval – he was asked to whisk the couple away.

Nor would it have been Paul’s place to decide how the car was driven. We can surely assume that it was Dodi’s order to ‘step on it’ rather than a unilateral decision made by their security man. And if the order came from Dodi, it must, in part, have been a result of Diana’s desire to get away from the photographers. As late as 10pm, just a couple of hours before the fatal accident, she was seen leaving the restaurant at The Ritz, apparently ‘visibly upset’ by the events of the day (2). These decisions, as much as Paul’s negligence, led to the crash.

If, instead of the occupants of the car being killed, a pedestrian had been killed by the Fayed car screaming around the Paris streets, would the verdict on Dodi and Diana’s behaviour that night have been so generous? Why has there been so little anger at the devastating injuries suffered by bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, the only one to survive the crash and who was entirely blameless, and at the death of Paul himself, who was caught up in the shenanigans of his employer’s spoilt son?

The deification of Diana doesn’t allow for the conclusion that she and her boyfriend put their own convenience before the safety of others. I don’t want to sound conspiratorial, but it looks to me like Henri Paul, an ordinary working Frenchman, has been scapegoated for the behaviour of Britain’s favourite princess and her playboy beau.

Rob Lyons is deputy editor of spiked.

Previously on spiked

Brendan O’Neill said the maddest claim at the inquest into the death of Princess Diana was that she was a ‘radical’. Earlier, he argued for the abolition of the People’s Monarchy and reviewed a book on the phenomenon of mass public mourning.Tessa Mayes argued that the paparazzi were not to blame for Diana’s death. Mick Hume believed investigating crackpot conspiracy theories are a waste of time and money. Or read more at spiked issue Modern life.

(1) Stranded on Planet Fayed, Spectator, 27 June 2007

(2) Timeline: How Diana died, BBC News, 14 December 2006

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics

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