Unresolved Issues of the Diana and Dodi Inquest
by John Morgan © 2008
Nexus Magazine June-July 2008. Vol 15, No 4
Was the verdict of the inquest into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed sound, or were the Royal Coroner's instructions to the jury part of an ongoing cover-up of what really happened in the Alma Tunnel on 31 August 1997?
Key Witnesses Missed
Lack of Jury Access to Evidence
Inadequacies of Early Investigations
Diana's "Rocking" Ambulance
Diana's Anti-Landmines Campaign
Was There Judicial Bias?
Removal of Murder as a Possible Verdict
The Following Vehicles
Requirement of Jury Unanimity
Did Justice Prevail?
After three-and-a-half days of deliberation, the jury at the British "Coroner's Inquests into the Deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Mr Dodi Fayed" finally delivered its verdict on Monday 7 April 2008. The 11 jurors sitting in London's Royal Courts of Justice had patiently listened to six months of evidence given by 268 witnesses.1 Their finding was that the 1997 crash which occurred in the Alma Tunnel in Paris had been caused by "unlawful killing, grossly negligent driving of the following vehicles and of the Mercedes" (transcript, page 5, lines 5-7, page 6, lines 16-18). The Royal Coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker, had pointed out that unlawful killing equates to manslaughter.
Did these final inquests (treated hereafter as the singular "inquest") answer the many questions that have surrounded the circumstances of the tragic crash? Did justice prevail, or was the inquest just another major event in continuing the cover-up of what truly happened in the Alma Tunnel on 31 August 1997?
One fact is certain: the over 7,000 pages of inquest transcripts and evidence now comprise the most detailed account that exists of the Paris crash and the circumstances and events surrounding it.
The jury also stated that "the crash was caused or contributed to by the speed and manner of driving" of both the Mercedes and the "following vehicles", and that the Mercedes driver's judgement was impaired "through alcohol" (5.20-24,7.6-10).
This outcome from the inquest followed the French investigation, which was finalised in September 1999,- and the British investigation —Operation Paget —which was completed with the publication of the Paget Report in December 2006 ? Both these investigations found that the Alma Tunnel crash had been caused by a drunk driver, Henri Paul, who was speeding.
Even after these two lengthy inquiries and now the inquest, there still remain critical, unresolved issues.
Key Witnesses Missed
During his summing up on the morning of 31 March, Lord Justice Scott Baker claimed that the inquest had been extremely thorough and stated that the conspiracy theories regarding the crash "have been examined in the minutest detail through the evidence of over 250 witnesses" (9.21-23). The reality, though, is that there are over 50 important witnesses who were never cross-examined during this inquest. Some of these people's evidence is so central to the conclusions drawn by the jury that the omission of it could cast doubt on the validity of the final verdict.
Because the crash occurred in France, most key witnesses were not residents of the United Kingdom and therefore were outside the jurisdiction of the Royal Coroner. Throughout the inquest, the government of France—where these witnesses generally lived—solidly maintained a position of refusing to cooperate. It failed to enforce the appearance of people who did not wish to be cross-examined.
Included in this group of witnesses is Professor Dominique Lecomte, head of the Paris Institute of Forensic Medicine; she is the pathologist who carried out the first autopsy on the Mercedes driver, Henri Paul. The Paget Report revealed that, during that autopsy, 58 identifiable errors were made, including the failure to identify the body properly. Lecomte also conducted the initial external medical examinations of the bodies of Diana and Dodi.
Another vital witness who evaded an appearance at the inquest is Dr Gilbert Pepin, the Paris toxicologist who carried out the alcohol testing on blood samples from both of Henri Paul's autopsies. It is the results of his testing that led to the high blood-alcohol readings that became the basis of the French and British investigations' conclusion that the crash was caused by a drunk driver.
Generally during this inquest, when a witness was not made available for cross-examination, their statement(s) to the French or British police were read out instead. In the case of Lecomte and Pepin, who both had signed statements with the British police, these statements were not read out to the jury. Thus the jury was not provided with any direct evidence from the two most important witnesses regarding the circumstances in which the alleged blood-alcohol results from the driver of the Mercedes were based—yet it is these blood test results that are central to the jury's finding that Henri Paul was guilty of gross negligence.
It is difficult to overstate the importance to this inquest of the evidence of Lecomte and Pepin. The question has to be asked: if Lecomte and Pepin have nothing to hide, then why did they not want to cooperate with the British inquest?
If Diana, Princess of Wales, was murdered, then Lecomte and Pepin would have played key roles in the aftermath and the ensuing French cover-up.
There are many other important witnesses who were not cross-examined. They include:
• Tom Richardson, an American tourist who was the first pedestrian to rush into the Alma Tunnel immediately after hearing the noise of the crash. He was never interviewed by either the French or the British investigators.
• David Laurent, who had to swerve to avoid a slow-moving, old-model, light-coloured Fiat Uno-type car as he entered the Alma Tunnel, just seconds before the crash occurred behind him. His evidence is critical, as paint from an old-model white Fiat Uno was found on the Mercedes after the crash, and that Fiat Uno has never been officially identified. Laurent also was never interviewed by the British police.
• Father Frank Gelli, Diana's local Anglican minister at St Mary Abbots Church near Kensington Palace. He was a friend of Diana, and stated in a media interview in 2000 that Diana had asked him if he would perform the wedding when she married Dodi. Gelli performs a service in memory of Diana on 31 August each year outside the gates of Kensington Palace. He was never interviewed by either the French or the British investigators.
• Michel Massebeuf, the driver of Diana's ambulance following the crash. He is one of only three people who were in the ambulance, which didn't deliver Diana to the hospital until 2.06 am—one hour and 41 minutes after the crash. Massebeuf was never interviewed by the British police.
• A female student intern who was another one of the three people in Diana's ambulance. She assisted the ambulance doctor and must have been involved in administering Diana's treatment. This woman was never interviewed or named in any police investigation and remains anonymous to this day.
• Nicholas Langman and Richard Spearman, both MI6 agents who were operating out of the British Embassy in Paris at the end of August 1997. It has been alleged that both were involved in the organisation of the crash. They both made statements to the British investigators; these were not included in the Paget Report and were not read to the jury during the inquest.
Lack of Jury Access to Evidence
The entire inquest process was hamstrung by the fact that witnesses were unable to recall clearly the detail of events that occurred so long ago. Throughout the six months of evidence, there were countless instances where those being cross-examined said: "I'm sorry. It is ten years ago now. I cannot remember."
For the jury, this problem was exacerbated by the antiquated rule whereby they were unable to have access to the earlier official statements of cross-examined witnesses, which had been given during the initial French investigation and the later British Operation Paget. Many of the French eyewitness statements were taken within hours of the crash. It should be obvious to all concerned that these original statements, taken very soon after the events, would provide more accuracy than witness cross-examination over 10 years later. On the morning of 11 December 2007, the jurors themselves requested access to these statements. After some discussion in the Court, Lord Justice Scott Baker's decision was: "No, you cannot have the statements" (66.7).
It is evident that if this had been an inquest without a jury, then the Coroner would have had access to all witness statements. Why should a jury have been any different?
Inadequacies of Early Investigations
The failure of the French authorities to carry out a thorough and adequate investigation in the first place, when the events were still fresh in the minds of key witnesses, also contributed to the difficulties that faced the inquest.
Take, for instance, the evidence of Alberto Repossi, the jeweller who sold Dodi Fayed the "engagement ring" (he was cross-examined on 10 December 2007). Repossi was never interviewed by the French, and thus his first testimony was not taken until the British Operation Paget officers interviewed him in September 2005, eight years after the crash.
Likewise, Brian Anderson (17 October 2007. afternoon), a passenger in a taxi following behind the Mercedes and thus a key eyewitness to the crash, according to police records was never interviewed by the French. His first official testimony was taken by British officers on 31 August 2004, precisely seven years after the events he had to describe. To the shame of both the French and the British investigators, there are no records of any attempts being made to locate the driver of the taxi that Brian Anderson was in.
American Joanna da Costa (formerly Luz) (22 October 2007, afternoon), one of the first two pedestrian eyewitnesses on the crash scene, was never interviewed by the French investigators. Her only interview was taken by the British police on 23 August 2004, but for some unknown reason this testimony was never included in the official police Paget Report.
Where delays of up to a decade or more in the hearing of evidence have occurred, it is obvious that the accuracy of testimony could have been compromised.
The recently completed inquest did, however, help to highlight the some of the areas where the early French investigation failed abysmally. For example, the inquest showed up mistakes made during the initial night-time investigations. Under cross-examination, French investigators blamed some of these errors on poor lighting. Sergeant Thierry Clotteaux (6 November, afternoon) admitted that "the lights were not so great" (50.17-18). Another police investigator, Hubert Pourceau (6 November, morning), stated that a 19-metre-long (Mercedes) tyre mark (7 November, 16.5-9) was missed "...because it was night-time and it was not very visible. They couldn't see it" (40.12-13).
This begs the question: where was the forensic lighting that one would expect at any night-time crash scene, let alone the scene of arguably the most important car crash of the 20th century?
Investigators revealed that during the night they had to rely on the lights of the emergency vehicles; then, after those vehicles had left the scene, they were reduced to using the dim tunnel lighting. Apparently they didnt even have their own torches!
Diana's "Rocking" Ambulance
On the morning of 17 October 2007, a statement given to the French investigation by Thierry Orban, a photographic reporter, was read out to the inquest. Referring to the ambulance carrying Princess Diana, Orban stated: "I then followed the ambulance, preceded by motorcyclists and followed by a police car which kept us at a distance. After the Pont d'Austerlitz, opposite the Natural History Museum, the ambulance stopped, the driver got out hurriedly and got into the back. That was when I took the only photo of the ambulance, which is in any case blurred. It was rocking, as if they were doing a cardiac massage" (12.25, 13.1-8). This stoppage occurred within 500 metres of the hospital gates.
In his statement to Operation Paget, Dr Martino, who was inside the ambulance, explained the situation: "I had the vehicle stopped in order to re-examine the Princess... I did not do any cardiac massage at that moment but it is not easy to do cardiac massage or resuscitation with a vehicle moving" (Report, p. 515).
The ambulance driver Michel Massebeuf s statement to the French investigation was read to the inquest on the morning of 14 November. He described what happened: "However, in front of the Jardin des Plantes, the doctor [Martino] asked me to stop. We stopped for about five minutes, in order for him to be able to provide treatment that required a complete absence of movement" (23.15-20).
This evidence raises the question: why did Thierry Orban witness a rocking ambulance if there was no cardiac massage taking place and "complete absence of movement" was required? This question was not put to Dr Martino when he was cross-examined on the afternoon of 24 January 2008.
The statements by Thierry Orban and Michel Massebeuf were both inexplicably omitted from the Paget Report. Also, it is not known why Orban and Massebeuf were not cross-examined during this inquest.
Diana's Anti-Landmines Campaign
A significant portion of inquest time was dedicated to evidence regarding the possibility that Diana was pregnant at the time of her death. This is a proposition put forward by the conspiracy camp as a possible motive for murder. The evidence, or lack thereof, has always indicated that this would appear to be an issue impossible to prove either way.
If Diana was murdered, more likely as possible motives would have been other factors: the rapidly developing relationship between Diana and Dodi, and Diana's prominent and effective involvement in the international anti-landmines campaign.
Diana's anti-landmines activity was a possible motive for murder that was almost completely ignored by the 832-page Paget Report, produced by Lord Stevens in December 2006.
Michael Mansfield, QC, acting on behalf of Dodi Fayed's father Mohamed Al Fayed throughout the inquest, provided some compelling arguments regarding her campaign. During his cross-examination of the Conservative former Minister for the Armed Forces, The Hon. Nicholas Soames, MP (12 December 2007, afternoon), Mansfield quoted Soames's Tory colleagues at the time. One told Diana: "Don't meddle with things about which you know nothing" (81.15-16). Another described Diana as a "loose cannon" (75.25) when referring to her visit to the minefields of Angola in January 1997. Soames himself in 1997 portrayed Diana, Princess of Wales, as a "totally unguided missile" (64.6).
Soames is alleged by Diana's close friend Simone Simmons to have directly threatened Diana with an "accident" if she continued with her anti-landmines activities. On the morning of 10 January 2008, Simmons gave evidence regarding a four-inch-thick anti-landmines dossier, titled "Profiting Out Of Misery", which Diana compiled in the last year of her life. Simmons stated that Diana claimed the dossier "...would prove that the British Government and many high-ranking public figures were profiting from their [landmines] proliferation in countries like Angola and Bosnia. The names and companies were well known, it was explosive and top of her list of culprits behind this squalid trade was the Secret Intelligence Service, the SIS [MI6], which she believed was behind the sale of so many of the British-made landmines that were causing so much misery to so many people. 'I'm going to go public with this and name names,' she declared" (52.13-22).
London Daily Mail journalist and close friend of Diana, Richard Kay, said in his testimony to the inquest on 20 December (morning) that he received a phone call from Diana just hours before she died. He confirmed that during this call the Princess stated that she fully intended to "complete her obligations to...the anti-personnel landmines cause" (28.17-18). Kay said that this would have involved a future visit to the minefields of South East Asia.
Was There Judicial Bias?
During Lord Justice Scott Baker's two-and-a-half days of summing up to the jury, he made some statements that should be subjected to scrutiny.
On the afternoon of 31 March 2008, during his discussion of Diana's fears for her life, the Coroner stated: "One might have thought that if Diana had really feared for her life, she would have mentioned it to Mohamed Al Fayed at the time of the conversation with him shortly before the crash, when he said she told him she was pregnant and engaged" (129.23-25, 130.1-2).
In saying this, Baker appeared to disregard the fact that Diana could not possibly have known the crash was about to occur. Why would she particularly mention it at that stage when she was on holiday, happy and in love, and she had already discussed her fears with Mohamed Al Fayed earlier during that summer.
Early on 1 April, during his summing up of evidence given by Diana's butler Paul Burrell (14-16 January 2008), Baker recounted what Burrell alleges he was told by Her Majesty the Queen in December 1997: "Be careful, Paul; no one has been as close to a member of my family as you have. There are powers at work in this country of which we have no knowledge. Do you understand?" (5.9-12)
The Coroner then went on to say: "Members of the jury, assuming something like those words were said, you may think it stretches one's imagination to breaking point to conclude that they have the remotest thing to do with a staged collision in a tunnel three and a half months before" (5.18-22).
Burrell had only recently lost his boss in a car crash, the circumstances of which raised many unanswered questions. Yet Baker was effectively making out that the jurors were fools if they saw any connection between the Paris crash and the Queen's comment. Given the context in which Burrell had met his former boss, the Queen, because of post-crash events, and given that the meeting was within a few months of the crash, it seems reasonably logical that the comment could have had some connection with the crash.
Later on the same day, 1 April, Baker summarised the evidence of David Laurent, who was driving through the tunnel ahead of the Mercedes immediately before the crash. In his statements that were read to the jury on the morning of 11 October 2007, Laurent related that he had to swerve to avoid a slow-moving car as he entered the Alma Tunnel. Baker stated that Laurent described this car as "a small light hatchback" (107.3-4). A closer look at David Laurent's evidence shows that he gave two descriptions of this car. In his first statement, given to the French police on 14 October 1997, he said: "It was a small light-coloured hatchback car" (23.17). His second statement, given to the French police in April 1998, has more detail: "It was an old model, a light coloured, white or beige, a Fiat Uno type car" (53.2-3). The Coroner changed "light coloured, white or beige" to "light", giving a completely different meaning to the description (107.4). Furthermore, he failed to mention "old model" and "Fiat Uno type car".
Laurent's evidence is important because it indicates that the Fiat Uno, which made contact with the Mercedes immediately before the main crash, was seen moving slowly beforehand. This could corroborate later evidence given by Souad Moufakkir (6 November, afternoon), who also claimed to have seen the Fiat Uno slowing down prior to the crash. Laurent's evidence of the Uno being an old model was corroborated by George Dauzonne (29 October, morning), who was a witness to the Fiat Uno as it left the tunnel after the crash.
Removal of Murder as a Possible Verdict
On the morning of 31 March, at the start of his summing up, Lord Justice Scott Baker announced to the jury that he was withdrawing murder from the possible verdicts available to them. He stated: "My direction in law to you is that it is not open to you to find that Diana and Dodi were unlawfully killed in a staged accident" (13.25, 14.1-2).
Baker went on to explain: "When a coroner leaves a verdict of unlawful killing, in this case on the basis of a staged accident, to a jury, he must identify to the jury the evidence on which they could be sure of such a conclusion. But in this case sufficient evidence simply does not exist" (14.11-15).
In what then may have seemed confusing to the jury, Baker continued: "This does not, however, mean that all the suggestions you have heard about the possibility of a staged crash are irrelevant.
Because there is some evidence, albeit limited and of doubtful quality, that the crash was staged, it will be necessary for you to consider it in the context of the five verdicts that are open to you" (14.18-24).
Baker appeared to be conceding that there was evidence of a staged crash, but not enough to enable him to allow the jury to be given the opportunity to decide that it was murder.
This inquest was conducted in the midst of a background of unanswered questions regarding the crash that occurred in circumstances which have led millions of people around the world to believe it is possible that Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed were murdered. The jury members faithfully sat there through the six months of evidence, believing they had been assigned the task of determining whether this was in fact the case.
It could be argued that, at the very last moment, the Coroner virtually pulled the rug out from underneath the inquest. The very purpose of the inquest was to establish whether Diana and Dodi were murdered.
The very purpose of having a jury make the decision was in order to remove the possibility of an Establishment cover-up. What happened is that at the very end of the inquest. Coroner Baker ruled that the jury should no longer be entrusted with the power to decide on whether a murder took place. In so doing, instead of quelling allegations of a cover-up, Baker added fuel to them.
The Following Vehicles
After this decision by the Coroner, the jury was left with five possible verdicts (31.24-25, 32.1-6):
1) unlawful killing (grossly negligent driving of the following vehicles);
2) unlawful killing (grossly negligent driving of the Mercedes);
3) unlawful killing (grossly negligent driving of the following vehicles and of the Mercedes);
4) accidental death;
5) open verdict.
In giving these options, the Coroner also removed the possibility of the Mercedes's contact with the white Fiat Uno— which was travelling ahead of the Mercedes as it entered the tunnel—having an influence on the crash. During the inquest, clear forensic evidence was shown that proved the Mercedes was involved in a collision with this car. Because the Fiat Uno was in front of the Mercedes, it cannot be included in the term "following vehicles" in the possible verdict provided to the jury. Baker has failed to explain why he removed the Fiat Uno from suspicion as a possible cause of the crash.
As discussed earlier, the jury chose the third option: "unlawful killing (grossly negligent driving of the following vehicles and of the Mercedes)".
The reason that the description is "following vehicles" is because these vehicles remain unidentified. It is therefore very surprising that in virtually every media report describing the jury verdict, the words "following vehicles" have been replaced by the word "paparazzi". There is actually no evidence which indicates that these vehicles were in fact driven by paparazzi.
Eyewitnesses near the Alma Tunnel described several motorbikes closely pursuing or surrounding the Mercedes as it entered the tunnel:
• Olivier Partouche, a chauffeur who was standing near his car across the road from the tunnel, witnessed a Mercedes "immediately followed by a number of motorcycles" (24 October, morning, 6.9-10).
• Francois Levistre, who was travelling ahead of the Mercedes, described seeing through his rear-vision mirror a "vehicle surrounded on either side by motorbikes" in his first statement made to French police on 1 September 1997, one day after the crash (Paget Report, p. 455; also see inquest transcript, 15 October, afternoon).
• Brian Anderson, who was travelling in a taxi that was overtaken by the speeding vehicles, described three motorbikes that "were in a cluster, like a swarm around the Mercedes" (17 October, afternoon, 98.24-25).
Thus the eyewitness evidence clearly shows that the "following vehicles" mentioned in the jury verdict are in fact several motorbikes that were seen very close to the Mercedes as it entered the Alma Tunnel.
On the afternoon of 2 October 2007, Scott Baker identified eight paparazzi who were near the Mercedes as it left Place de la Concorde. They were Benhamou, Guizard, Odekerken, Martinez, Arnal, Rat, Darmon and Chassery (95.10-11). It was also revealed that Benhamou rode a green Honda scooter; Guizard drove a grey Peugeot 205; Odekerken drove a Mitsubishi Pajero; Martinez and Arnal were in a black Fiat Uno; Rat and Darmon were on a blue Honda 650 motorcycle; and Chassery drove a black Peugeot 205 (94.3-10).
This evidence shows that of the paparazzi pursuing the Mercedes, there was actually only one motorbike, a Honda 650. All the other pursuing paparazzi were either in cars or on a scooter.
On 7 November 2007, Paget accident investigator Anthony Read revealed to the inquest that French investigators had conducted tests on the performance of a Honda 650, comparing it with the Mercedes S280 (afternoon, 103). They found that at full acceleration over 1,400 metres, the Honda 650 was the equivalent of 17 per cent slower than the Mercedes. Darmon, who was driving the Honda, gave evidence to the inquest (29 October, afternoon) that he lost sight of the Mercedes after he turned right, onto the expressway, after leaving Place de la Concorde. With Rat his passenger, they were the first of the paparazzi to arrive at the crash scene.
After analysing the evidence, it becomes very clear that it is quite impossible for any of the motorbikes surrounding or closely pursuing the Mercedes as it entered the Alma Tunnel to have carried paparazzi. Instead, the motorbikes were unidentified— which is why they have been described in the jury's verdict simply as "the following vehicles".
It is clear, however, from early eyewitness evidence that camera flashes were seen on the expressway just before the Alma Tunnel:
• Bruno Bouaziz, a French police lieutenant, said in his 31 August 1997 statement, which was read out to the jury on the afternoon of 12 November 2007: "Witnesses told the first police to arrive at the scene that the Princess's car was travelling at high speed, chased by photographers on motorcycles. Others saw the Mercedes slowed down by a Ford Mondeo vehicle so that photographers riding motorcycles could take photographs" (118.18-23).
• Olivier Partouche said in a statement taken six hours after the crash: "...I think that I saw flashes before the vehicles disappeared into the underpass" (24 October, morning, 26.1-3).
• Clifford Gooroovadoo, who was standing near Partouche, said in his first statement, taken two hours after the crash, that he "saw a motorbike with two people on it and also saw that the pillion passenger of this motorbike was taking one photo after another in the direction of the vehicle that was making the noise [the Mercedes]" (12 March 2008, morning, 76.20-23).
• Benoit Boura (24 October, morning) was travelling eastbound (the opposite way to the Mercedes) towards the Alma Tunnel. He said in his second statement of 31 August 1997 that "before all this [the crash] happened, therefore before entering the tunnel, I saw flashes in the distance" (Paget Report, p. 454).
On the morning of 27 November 2007, Baker himself stated: "I am very interested in trying to find any...photographs showing the journey of the Mercedes before the collision" (48.12-15).
It is evident that if these photos of Diana and Dodi's final moments before the crash had been taken by paparazzi, then they would be worth millions of pounds and somehow they would have surfaced after the crash—whether in newspapers, TV or over the Internet. But no such photos have ever been published.
This raises the question: who took these photos through the untinted windows of the Mercedes S280 on its final trip? Were they men on motorbikes masquerading as paparazzi with the purpose of harming the occupants of the Mercedes, but hoping that blame would later be attributed to the paparazzi?
It is to the shame of both the French and British inquiries that, after five years of "thorough" investigation, none of these motorbikes has been identified.
There are also motorbikes—probably the same ones—that were seen fleeing the crash scene, and cars including the white Fiat Uno that were witnessed fleeing after the crash. The reality is that the police on both sides of the Channel have only ever officially identified one vehicle in this entire case, and that is the crashed Mercedes S280.
The question must be raised: if the riders, passengers and drivers of the vehicles that were clearly witnessed fleeing the crash scene have nothing to hide, why is it that not one of them has come forward to explain their actions?
Requirement of Jury Unanimity
On the morning of 31 March 2008, as Coroner Scott Baker commenced his lengthy summing up, he instructed the jury: "Whatever your verdict, whether unlawful killing, accident or open, it must be unanimous. There are circumstances in which a majority verdict can be accepted, but they have not arisen in this case and, if they do, I shall give you a separate direction about it" (15.5-10).
Later, on the morning of 2 April, just before he sent the jury out to deliberate, he reiterated: "With each verdict, whether unlawful killing, accident or open, it must be the verdict of all 11 of you" (51.22-23).
At 3.30 pm on 7 April, after the jury had been out for three-and-a-half days without reaching a unanimous verdict, the Coroner told them: "The position is this, that the time has now been reached when I am able to accept from you a verdict upon which at least nine of you are agreed" (full-day transcript, 3.15-18).
There is no correlation between Baker's earlier requirement that the verdict must be unanimous, and his later statement that some sort of mysterious time limit had been reached and the rules could be changed to a majority of nine being acceptable. The Coroner had already stated on 31 March that the "circumstances in which a majority verdict can be accepted have not arisen in this case". On 7 April, he made no attempt to explain in what way the circumstances had now changed to enable a majority verdict to be acceptable.
This evidence indicates that, in reality, the result in the case of the inquest into the deaths of Diana and Dodi should have been a hung jury.
Did Justice Prevail?
Did the inquest achieve justice for Diana, Princess of Wales, Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul?
The following restraints were placed on the jury:
• no access to original witness statements, despite the crash having occurred over 10 years before:
• a large number of crucial witnesses failing to give evidence and not being required to;
• removal by the Coroner of murder as a possible verdict open to the jury.
Was the inquest really thorough?
Were the jury members provided with the evidence that really would have enabled them to achieve a unanimous verdict?
Did the Coroner place trust in the ability of the jury to be able to decide on the evidence?
It seems almost unfair that the jury should have been expected to reach a verdict in the above circumstances. It is as though the jury members achieved a verdict with at least one hand tied behind their back.
It would also seem likely that the general public's perception, that the British and French governments have not been up front about the circumstances and events surrounding the Paris crash, would seem justified by the way in which this inquest was conducted.
To those who say "It's over ten years now; it's time to move on": does the fact that a crime or a gross injustice occurred a decade ago mean that it is of less importance and significance than if it happened yesterday?
It is this attitude of public complacency and wanting to "move on" by so many people that has helped enable one of the greatest crimes and, equally, one of the greatest cover-ups of our time to have been perpetrated and successfully carried out.
1. To view and download transcripts and other published material from the "Coroner's Inquests into the Deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Mr Dodi Al Fayed", go to http://www.scottbakerinquests.gov.uk. Note that the page numbering in the transcripts is at the bottom of each page.
2. To view and download an English translation of the final report by the Public Prosecutor's Office in Paris, originally obtained by the London Sunday Times, go tohttp://www.geocities.com/wellesley/6226/report.htm?200613.
3. To view and download the Operation Paget inquiry report, go to http://www.met.police.uk/news/operation_paget_report.htm.
About the Author:John Morgan is an investigative journalist and writer based in Brisbane, Australia. Since 2005, he has carried out extensive full-time research into the circumstances surrounding the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. His book, Cover-up of a Royal Murder: Hundreds of Errors in the Paget Report (available from http://www.thedianaplot. com and http://www.allbookstores.com ), is reviewed in this edition of NEXUS.
John Morgan can be contacted by email at email@example.com.