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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2007, 17:08 GMT
Diana driver 'did not seem drunk'
Henri Paul in 1997
Driver Henri Paul died along with Diana and Dodi Al Fayed
Princess Diana's driver Henri Paul did not appear to be drunk just hours before the fatal car crash, her inquest has been told.

Sebastien Trotte, a former barman at the Ritz in Paris where Diana and Dodi Al Fayed were staying, said he served Mr Paul in the hotel's Bar Vendome.

He said Mr Paul drank two 4cl measures of Ricard - aniseed spirit - but did not appear to be "in any sense drunk".

Mr Paul died along with Diana and Mr Al Fayed in the crash on 31 August 1997.

Bodyguards

Mr Trotte gave evidence to the High Court inquest in London by video link from Paris.

He said he served Mr Paul as he sat with bodyguards while they waited "for the signal" for the princess and Mr Al Fayed to leave.

Ian Burnett QC, counsel for the inquest, asked him: "Did he appear to you to have had too much to drink?"

Mr Trotte replied: "No."

"Did he appear to you to be in any sense drunk?" Mr Burnett said.

"No," Mr Trotte answered.

He said Mr Paul and the bodyguards "were all a bit nervous".

It was for sure he was looking for a ring, but he never said it was for an engagement ring
Emanuele Gobbo,
Repossi jeweller employee

Another former Ritz barman, Philippe Doucin, also gave evidence on Tuesday.

He said Mr Paul appeared "preoccupied, agitated and tense", behaviour he assumed was due to the pressure of driving such high-profile clients.

But Mr Doucin also said Mr Paul did not show signs of being drunk.

'Looking for a ring'

The court also heard evidence from Emanuele Gobbo, an employee of Repossi jewellers in Paris.

Mr Al Fayed visited his store hours before his death, accompanied by Claude Roulet, assistant president of the Ritz.

Michael Mansfield QC, representing Mr Al Fayed's father Mohamed, asked Mr Gobbo: "Do you remember their interest was in rings and especially engagement rings?"

Mr Gobbo said: "The word 'engagement' ring was never pronounced. It was for sure he was looking for a ring, but he never said it was for an engagement ring."

On Monday, store owner Alberto Repossi claimed Mr Al Fayed had asked for an engagement ring to be made in Diana's size.

Nicholas Hilliard QC, counsel to the inquest, suggested the ring that was later delivered to Mr Al Fayed was ready-made "for people on a more limited budget", rather than someone of his wealth.

The inquest continues.



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