Brown urges "closure" of Diana chapter as al-Fayed weighs options

Other News Materials 8 April 2008 17:51 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Tuesday that the time had come to "draw a line" under the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi al-Fayed in Paris more than 10 years ago.

His plea followed the findings of an inquest jury Monday that Dodi and Diana were unlawfully killed through the "gross negligence" of driver Henri Paul, who also died, and paparazzi photographers chasing the Mercedes when it crashed in the French capital on August 31, 1997.

"I think it's time to draw a line," said Brown. He believed that Diana's sons, the princes William and Harry, had spoken for the whole country when they said they accepted the verdict and were grateful for the jury's "thorough" work.

The call for closure was echoed Tuesday by Trevor Rees, the former bodyguard and sole survivor of the Paris crash, who expressed the hope that everyone involved could now "move on."

Rees, a one-time employee of the al-Fayeds, suffered horrific injuries in the tunnel crash, with his survival being partly attributed to him wearing a seatbelt - unlike backseat passengers Diana and Dodi.

Prince William, 25, and Prince Harry, 23, said in a statement released in London Monday evening that they agreed with the decision of the jury and were grateful for the "thorough way" in which evidence was considered.

The sons also expressed their "most profound gratitude to all those who fought so desperately to save our mother's life on that tragic night."

But Dodi's father, Egyptian billionaire Mohammed al-Fayed, who insists that Diana and his son were murdered in a British secret service plot, said Tuesday that he was considering further options to find "the truth."

"Everybody is saying, let it end now, time to move on, and just as William and Harry will never get over the death of their mother, Mohammed will never get over his son, you don't just do that, move on from the death of a child," al-Fayed's spokeswoman Katharine Witty said Tuesday.

"It's whether there's any legal redress following this inquest, and that's something he will be looking at."

Earlier, al-Fayed criticized that none of the paparazzi gave evidence at the inquest, something the British Justice Ministry says is not possible under existing legal structures.

The jury ruled that driver Henri Paul had been under the influence of drink and drugs and was speeding, but pinned equal blame on the paparazzi who pursued the crash Mercedes.

But Nikolai Arsov, one of the first photographers at the scene of the accident, told the Daily Mail Tuesday that it was wrong to blame the photographers.

"It's just wrong. It was the driver, it was alcohol, it was speed - it wasn't us."