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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 October 2007, 05:04 GMT 06:04 UK
A 'public inquiry in all but name'
The first week of the High Court inquest into the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed was not without drama and featured some never before seen CCTV footage of the couple's last moments at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt gives his take on week one:

Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed
The jury saw footage of the couple holding hands

Eleven people in London could right now be switching their computers off.

Such a slight dip in readership will be happening if they are the six women and five men on the Diana jury.

The coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker, had instructed them to try and avoid media coverage - no mean feat, given the interest this case has already generated.

Lord Justice Scott Baker doesn't appear to be a man who pussyfoots around.

A former appeal court judge, he clearly intends to seize hold of many of the conspiracy theories swirling around, give them a good shake, and see if evidence emerges to back them up.

Time and time again he stressed the need for evidence, not assertion or speculation.

Vigorous inquiry

The coroner set out a mission statement for the journey he and the jury were embarking on over the coming six months.

They would be conducting a vigorous and searching inquiry, he told the court, so that the true cause of the deaths may, if possible, be determined once and for all.

"At the end", he said to the jury, "you'll be faced with the overriding question of whether what happened was anything more than a tragic road accident."

This, of course is something, Mohamed Al Fayed has never accepted.

He believes his son Dodi and Diana were murdered in a conspiracy masterminded by Prince Philip and the secret services because they couldn't accept an Egyptian Muslim as stepfather to the future King of England.


So this inquest, which some have called a public inquiry in all but name, will tackle these issues, amongst others:

Was Diana pregnant with Dodi's child? We've already been told she was on the pill and that we'll be hearing intimate details about her private life.

Were the couple about to announce their engagement? Did MI6 bump them off? And what fears did Diana have for her own life?

Diana and Dodi Al Fayed
Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed were captured in a lift at the Ritz

At a meeting with her lawyer in 1995, the princess said the Queen would abdicate and Diana believed she and the then Camilla Parker Bowles were to be put aside.

In the coming days and weeks questions will also be asked about the critical role of the driver, Henri Paul.

Why did he wave to some paparazzi across the street in the moments before Diana and Dodi left the Ritz? Was he unfit to drive through drink and drugs or was the evidence fabricated to suggest he was?

Public domain

The coroner's already told the jury they may conclude there were some unsatisfactory features to tests carried out on Mr Paul's body and some of the results were puzzling.

One striking aspect of this inquest already is the desire to put as much information as possible in the public domain.

The official website has maps, transcripts, photographs and video footage. With a click of a mouse, anyone, anywhere in the world can watch poignant CCTV images of a princess in the hours before she died.

Diana looks happy and relaxed. She clasps her boyfriend's hand and even delivers a mock salute to Mr Paul.

Anyone with the stomach for it can also view photographs of the wreckage of the Mercedes after it had crashed into the 13th pillar in the Alma Tunnel.

It'll be jurors task to decide how this happened. They'll be performing, said the coroner, an important public duty under considerable pressure.

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