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Monday, 6 March, 2000, 14:05 GMT
Diana's bodyguard: What's the story?

Trevor Rees-Jones: Focus of media attention, but shy of it
Since surviving the crash which killed Diana, Princess of Wales, life has been an uphill struggle for bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones.

Conspiracy theories, lurid newspaper claims, multiple lawsuits and public fall-outs with his former boss, Mohammed al-Fayed, have punctuated his troubled return to normality.

Rees-Jones in December 1997
Mr Rees-Jones four months after the crash
And now he has written a new book, The Bodyguard's Story, which has sparked controversy all over again.

Mr Rees-Jones, a 31-year-old former paratrooper from Oswestry in Shropshire, began working as a bodyguard for Mr al-Fayed in 1995.

The job proved fairly uneventful until 31 August 1997, when he was guarding Diana and Dodi, Mr al-Fayed's son, during a night out in Paris.

Their Mercedes limousine carrying the couple crashed and both were killed, along with chauffeur Henri Paul.

If I could have died and those three survived, I would have done it

Rees-Jones on the crash
Mr Rees-Jones survived but suffered facial and head injuries which wiped out all memories of the accident.

In the weeks immediately after the crash, it appeared Mr Rees-Jones had been taken under the wing of Mr al-Fayed.

They met three or four times a week, and the former bodyguard was given "light duties" as a security guard at Harrods.

But Mr Rees-Jones now says Mr al-Fayed was putting immense pressure on him to remember details of the accident.

He is guilty that Diana died "on my shift"
In March 1998, he gave an interview to The Mirror newspaper, at Mr al-Fayed's request.

In the interview he said Diana had called out for Dodi after the crash, and that he had seen two cars and a motorbike following the Mercedes.

But he now says that is not true. He says he still can't remember any of the immediate circumstances, and he had made them up in a moment of capitulation.

A couple of months later Mr Rees-Jones left Mr al-Fayed's employment, and returned to Oswestry where he began working part-time at a friend's sports shop.

But the relationship between the two men continued to deteriorate.

Look, there's more to me than August 31, 1997. I am not a car crash

Rees-Jones on himself
In August, Mr al-Fayed accused Mr Rees-Jones and his colleague Kez Wingfield of failing to protect Diana on the night of the crash.

In September, Mr Rees-Jones filed a French lawsuit against the Ritz and the firm from which the Mercedes was hired, accusing them of "putting others in danger" and demanding compensation from Mr al-Fayed.

In the same month he took out a county court summons in England, over a 27,000 solicitor's bill which he said Mr al-Fayed had promised, but failed, to pay for him.

Mr Al-Fayed: A feud began after the crash
In 1999, Mr Rees-Jones was cleared of any blame for the crash by a French investigation.

But the rows continue. Last week, Mr al-Fayed threatened to sue Mr Rees-Jones for alleged breach of confidence and confidentiality.

What now?

Physically, Mr Rees-Jones has made a phenomenal recovery - so much so that he now plays rugby for North Wales side Wrexham.

A helluva looker with a lovely sense of humour

Rees-Jones on Diana
And outwardly his life is beginning to return to normal - he has given up the sports shop job, and plans to set up a new security company.

At the time of the crash, Mr Rees-Jones was breaking up with Sue, his wife of two years. He now has a new girlfriend and a new two-bedroomed terraced house, paid for by the book.

Once TV, video and serialisation rights - the latter bought by the Daily Telegraph - are taken into account, he is expected to earn about 1m.

However, he says this will be largely swallowed up in legal bills. He has abandoned the claims against Mr al-Fayed both in England and in France, but must pay solicitors for the two actions.

And psychologically he says he remains haunted by the crash, with the nightmares continuing.

"I'll be asleep then, boof, I'll be awake, sitting up in bed, remembering. I can wake up after six hours' sleep and be exhausted, my brain running round and round."

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