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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008, 16:17 GMT
Ex-Met chief seeks Diana apology
Lord Stevens
Lord Stevens says "scurrilous" claims were made

Former Met police chief Lord Stevens has demanded an apology for criticisms of his report into Princess Diana's death, as he testified at her inquest.

He led an inquiry into the 1997 Paris crash in which the princess died, which ruled it had been a "tragic accident".

Lord Stevens said over the years he had been accused of being negligent and being influenced by other parties.

He did not name anyone but looked at Mohamed Al Fayed's legal team as he said he was "looking for an apology".

And Lord Stevens denied "scurrilous accusations" that he had not done his job properly when overseeing the Paget report into the princess's death.

His brief for the inquiry, which was launched in 2004, was to investigate allegations that Diana and her partner Dodi Al Fayed were murdered - the theory most commonly associated with Dodi's father, Mohamed Al Fayed.

The report concluded that there was no evidence to suggest the couple were murdered.

These are scurrilous allegations - I'm looking for an apology for this in due course
Lord Stevens

Dodi's father said he did not accept the findings as questions remained "unanswered" and it had been unsatisfactory that up to 18 key witnesses to the crash were not interviewed by the Metropolitan Police's inquiry.

Speaking at the inquest, Lord Stevens referred to the "extraordinary allegation that I had been got at in terms of how the evidence and the report was going to be put forward".

Addressing these claims, he said: "It's quite outrageous. I will take that on my behalf, but I will not have it said about people who worked for me for four years who sometimes can't defend themselves about these issues."

Ian Burnett, counsel to the inquest, told the court that there had previously been observations of discrepancies between what driver Henri Paul's parents had been told and what appeared in the final report.

Following this, Lord Stevens replied: "I would say these are scurrilous allegations."

Drink discrepancy

He then went on: "I'm looking for an apology for this in due course."

The princess, Dodi Al Fayed and driver Henri Paul died in the 1997 Paris crash and according to the Paget report, tests indicated Mr Paul was three times over the French drink-drive limit.

The court has heard Mr Al Fayed's director of security in August 1997 admit lying in public about his knowledge of what Mr Paul had to drink on the night of the crash.

I have come here to tell the truth
John Macnamara

John Macnamara was sent to Paris immediately after the crash and soon discovered from bar records that Mr Paul had consumed two Ricards that evening, which he failed to mention when he took part in an ABC programme on US television on 10 September 1997.

Instead, he said the driver only drank pineapple juice that night.

Addressing this inconsistency, the coroner told Mr Macnamara that one of the problems for the jury was "if you are telling lies on some occasions, how can they tell if you are telling the truth on others?"

He replied: "I have come here to tell the truth."

Earlier, the inquest heard that Operation Paget officers had a meeting with Henri Paul's parents in Paris before the publication of the report.

A note from that meeting recorded that Mr Paul's parents had been told the report would say their son had consumed two glasses of the spirit Ricard on the evening of the crash.

Mr Burnett said: "Reading that, it might infer that the message conveyed was that Henri Paul had only consumed two alcoholic drinks."

'Pig' drunk?

This, he said, would be at odds with the suggestion that the driver had a reading of 170mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood - well over the drink drive limit.

But the former police chief said such an inference "would not have been the natural reading" of the message.

"We're talking about what evidence there was against Henri Paul that night. The evidence was that he had taken two Ricards," he said.

Lord Stevens said his team was "being fair to Henri Paul", adding that details of the drinks he consumed "referred to the evidence we had".

He said a police officer determines whether a person is drunk based on whether they have slurred speech, glazed eyes and are unsteady on their feet.

And the court later heard that Lord Stevens was "happy to state at this point, in my view, based on all the evidence available to us, that Henri Paul was not "drunk as a pig", as referred to in some publications, but more correctly described as under the influence of alcohol."





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