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Tuesday, August 31, 1999 Published at 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK


Diana: Fayed vows to fight on

Speed and alcohol are likely to be cited as the causes of the crash

Mohamed al-Fayed, whose son Dodi died with Diana, Princess of Wales, two years ago, has pledged to find those responsible for the car accident in Paris.

His comments, through his lawyer, come as the investigating magistrates are about to announce their findings.

Lawyer Georges Kiejman: "Photographers were first cause of the accident"
It is widely expected that they will recommend all charges against the paparazzi who were chasing the car should be dropped.

But Mr al-Fayed's lawyer in Paris, Georges Kiejman, said his client would not give up the fight, and would take the case to a court of appeal and then the French Supreme Court.

[ image: Mr al-Fayed is determined to pursue the press pack]
Mr al-Fayed is determined to pursue the press pack
While Harrods owner Mr al-Fayed accepted that the car's driver, Henri Paul, had been drinking, he still believed that the chasing press pack was responsible for the car crashing, said Mr Kiejman.

The final report into the accident is expected to be published within the next few days.

The state prosecutor has advised that charges of manslaughter should be dismissed against the nine photographers and a press motorcyclist who were implicated in the crash.

The BBC's James Coomarasamy reports from Paris
Investigating judge Herve Stephan is not obliged to follow the recommendations, but it seems likely that the report will clear the media pack.

[ image: The public were hostile to photographers in the wake of the crash]
The public were hostile to photographers in the wake of the crash
The charges had followed speculation that the pursuing paparazzi had forced Mr Paul, the Paris Ritz's deputy security chief, to drive too fast and had contributed to the accident in the underpass.

But early on in the inquiry it became clear that, although the photographers had followed the couple from the Ritz, their motorbikes had been left well behind by the time Mr Paul steered the car through a sweeping bend and into the tunnel where it crashed.

It is still possible that some of the photographers could be charged with failing to help at the scene of an accident.

Fear of censorship

But the crash will have an impact on the French media.

Observers say it has been the impetus behind imminent French legislation that would ban publication of photos that could "harm a person's reputation".

French magazines and photographers believe that the law, which is intended to increase privacy protection for public figures, could also result in the censoring of important news events.

"The freedom to print photographs is being severely challenged, and the fall-out from the Diana crash is largely to blame," said the deputy editor of Paris Match, Olivier Royant.

"We will be living with the legacy for a long time to come."

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