( express.co.uk ) - A witness who holds vital clues suggesting Princess Diana's death was not an accident is set to give evidence at her inquest.
Christophe Pelat could be one of the most important people to take the stand when the hearing begins in the autumn.The French firefighter's sensational claims concern the discovery of the "shot" body of paparazzi photographer James Andanson.Andanson was an MI6 informer who followed Diana's every move in the weeks before she died alongside Dodi Al Fayed and their chauffeur, Henri Paul. He is also believed to be the driver of a mystery Fiat Uno that collided with Diana's Mercedes moments before it crashed.Three years after the fatal crash in Paris in 1997, Andanson's badly charred body was discovered in a burnt-out BMW in the French countryside.
The official verdict was that he had committed suicide but now Mr Pelat, who discovered his body, insists the photographer had been shot in the head. The authorities have always claimed any damage to his skull was the result of the intense heat of the fire.But returning to the scene where Andanson's body was found, Mr Pelat said: "He had a hole in his skull, as if he had been shot with a gun."Mr Pelat, pictured for the first time today, told the Daily Express last night that he was willing to testify at the inquest and expected to be officially called in the coming weeks. He said: "Of course I will contribute to any inquiry of this nature. It is my job."
A former Operation Paget detective, who has now been tasked with collating evidence and witness statements for the inquest, also confirmed Mr Pelat's likely inclusion.He said: "Anyone with this kind of information is high on the list of those who will give evidence." The circumstances of Andanson's death remain vitally important to any investigation because of his connection to the mystery white Fiat Uno, said to have clipped Diana's Mercedes.Andanson, 54 at the time of his death, owned a white Fiat, which was repainted shortly after Diana's death and sold by him later that year. When the vehicle was eventually traced, forensic reports claimed paint scratches on the side-view mirror and bumper of the Mercedes were identical to samples from Andanson's Fiat. The revelation that Andanson could have been shot threatens to blow apart the inquest into Diana's death and lend weight to conspiracy theories that she was murdered in a plot to prevent her marrying Dodi. As a leading paparazzi photographer, Andanson spent weeks following the 36-year-old Princess as her romance with Dodi blossomed . It is believed he supplemented his income by also acting as an informer for both the British Secret Intelligence Service and the French authorities.Andanson had been in Sardinia during the last week of August 1997, as Diana and Dodi enjoyed their last holiday together before returning to France on August 30. Less than six hours after the fatal crash, and for reasons that have never been revealed, Andanson boarded a flight at Paris's Orly airport bound for Corsica. He claimed he had been nowhere near the centre of the French capital when the crash happened but could not provide any real evidence. His body, found in thick woodland near Montpellier, was so badly charred that it took police almost a month before DNA and dental records confirmed his identity. The official verdict was suicide but Mr Pelat's claims support the theory that Andanson was assassinated because he knew too much about the Establishment plot to kill Diana.Several weeks after his body was discovered, Andanson's office was burgled and a number of his personal belongings were stolen. The owner of the land where the body was found has now also come forward to question the circumstances of Andanson's death. Julian Christian told a Japanese documentary team that the area was so secluded only a local would have known how to locate the field where the burning BMW was found. In a further twist, Andanson's wife has confirmed that to her knowledge her husband had never before visited that region.Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed now wants the latest evidence to be fully aired at the joint inquest into Diana and Dodi's deaths. He is among those who dismiss the official story that the crash was caused by the couple's drunken chauffeur losing control of the vehicle. Instead, he believes the pair were murdered by the British security services because senior British royals, including Prince Philip, did not want Diana to have Dodi's baby. Mr Al Fayed is convinced some of the paparazzi following the couple that night were MI6 agents determined to stop the announcement of the couple's engagement - and Diana's pregnancy. Lord Justice Scott Baker, the fourth official chosen to oversee the inquest, has demanded full disclosure of all the evidence. He has identified 20 key issues he wants to examine further, including whether Andanson was in Paris on the night of the crash.