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Sunday, December 21, 1997 Published at 21:02 GMT


Diana's lawyers could sue Al Fayed
image: [ Diana's family may demand at least £8m in compensation for her death ]
Diana's family may demand at least £8m in compensation for her death

Lawyers acting for the estate of Diana, the late Princess of Wales, have taken steps towards a possible compensation claim for millions of pounds.

They have registered a civil interest in the criminal investigation into her death which could lead to a claim against the business empire of Mohammed Al Fayed.

Reports say that if French investigators rule that Mr Al Fayed, as the employer of the driver of the car in which the princess was killed, is responsible for her death, the estate would have grounds to sue.

[ image: Al Fayed: employed Henri Paul as a driver]
Al Fayed: employed Henri Paul as a driver
A spokesman for the princess's estate said no civil action would be initiated until the criminal investigation into the crash had been completed.

Tests after the crash on August 31 revealed that Henri Paul was three times over the French drink-drive limit when the Mercedes limousine he was driving crashed in an underpass tunnel at about 100mph (160kph).

Royal sources have said that the minimum claim against the Harrods' boss would be £8m which amounts to the inheritance tax incurred after Diana's death, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

[ image: Henri Paul: tests showed he was drunk]
Henri Paul: tests showed he was drunk
The princess's former head of staff, Michael Gibbins, has confirmed that the estate was registered as an "interested party" in the ongoing criminal investigation in Paris.

He said: "The situation is that the executors for the estate have registered the estate as a party interested in the criminal investigation in France. Under French law that has to be done in order to allow the estate to gain access to the papers and that is what has been done."

He added: "No consideration has been given to the question of any civilian action, nor would that consideration be given until the criminal investigation has been completed."

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