Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed died because of the actions of driver, paparazzi

Other News Materials 8 April 2008 12:26 (UTC +04:00)
Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed died because of the actions of driver, paparazzi

(showbizspy.com) - Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed died because of the "grossly negligent" driving of Henri Paul and the paparazzi pursuing them in their car, an inquest jury ruled today.

The jury also had a damning verdict for Paul, who also died. The panel ruled the crash was caused by the speed and the way Henri was driving the couple's Mercedes on the night they died as well as the photographers in pursuit.

They also said Paul's judgment was impaired because he had drunk alcohol early in the evening before the group left the Ritz in Paris and that the fact Diana and Dodi were not wearing seat belts contributed to their deaths.

The jury's decision came after more than 23 hours of deliberation. Earlier Monday, the coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker said the 11 member could return a majority verdict as long as nine of them agreed.

The inquest into the deaths of Princess Diana and Fayed opened back in October and has lasted more than six months.

In that time it has heard claim and counter claim about the events that led up to the couple's deaths in a tunnel in Paris on August 31, 1997.

The decision goes one step further than Lord Stevens' finding in 2006, who ruled the crash was a "tragic accident" and said Paul was drink-driving and speeding when it happened.

It was hoped their decision would finally bring an end to more than a decade of wild conspiracy theories about how the Princess died.

But the unexpected unlawful killing ruling, which was the strongest verdict they could reach, is unlikely to do so.

Diana's sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, was also at the hearing but walked straight to her car and made no comment as she left the building.

She ignored members of the public who were clearly Al Fayed supporters, shouting: "It is an MI5 cover-up."

Former Met Chief Lord Stevens, speaking outside court, urged people to accept the verdict and allow Dodi and Diana to rest in peace.

He said: "I just hope that this can bring closure for what has been a tragic event for a lot of people. Mr Al Fayed has said he will accept the verdict of the jury.

"The jury has been clear. They have said they are absolutely sure there was no conspiracy in relation to this matter.

"I hope everybody can take this verdict as closure to this tragic incident and that the people who died can be allowed to rest in peace."

Seven paparazzi were arrested following the crash in August 1997 but were cleared of causing it by the French investigation.