Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Monday, 7 April 2008 16:54 UK

Diana: What have we learned?

The inquest into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed has lasted for six months, heard evidence from 250 witnesses and considered thousands of documents.

The jury ruled they were unlawfully killed due to the actions of driver Henri Paul and the paparazzi.

In the decade since the tragedy, French and British investigations have found that the crash was an accident. Accordingly, the jury heard some evidence that was already in the public domain.

But the scope of the hearing means we now have a better understanding of some of the issues.

WAS HENRI PAUL DRUNK WHEN THE CRASH HAPPENED?

He was well over the drink-drive limit. Toxicology tests carried out at the time, found between 174 -187 milligrammes of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood in his system.

Henri Paul and Diana shortly before the crash
Henri Paul and Diana shortly before the crash
The drink-drive limit in the UK is 80mg/100ml and in France the limit is 50mg/100ml.

Professor Robert Forrest, who reviewed the blood tests carried out by French doctors, told the inquest that the results were consistent with Mr Paul having had between five and eight 50ml shots of Ricard - a liqueur that he was known to be drinking that evening.

TOXICOLOGY REPORT

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This was the equivalent of drinking more than a litre of wine, Professor Forrest said.

There were, however, some inconsistencies in the taking, labelling and supervision of the blood samples but no firm evidence to back up claims from Mohammed Al Fayed that they had been tampered with or switched.

WAS DIANA PREGNANT?

No, according to Dr Robert Chapman, the British pathologist who carried out the post-mortem examination of the princess and Dodi Fayed.

Dr Chapman told the inquest that he had examined Diana's uterus and it showed no indication of pregnancy, although he said it was difficult to detect a pregnancy in the first three weeks after conception.

Other witnesses, including heart surgeon Hasnat Khan with whom Diana had had a two year relationship, said that she was assiduous in taking the contraceptive pill.

WAS A WHITE FIAT UNO INVOLVED IN THE CRASH?

Yes. French and British traffic accident investigators agree that the Mercedes in which Dodi and Diana were travelling struck a glancing blow with the rear of a white Fiat Uno.

The Mercedes with a streak of white on the bodywork
The Mercedes with a streak of white on the bodywork, as shown to the jury
Witnesses who were driving in the tunnel at the same time as the crash also saw the car. It has never been found.

Senior British collision investigator Anthony Read told the inquest that a glancing collision with a 900kg Uno would not have caused the much larger Mercedes 280S saloon, weighing approximately 2 tonnes, to run off the road.

He said the presence of the Uno probably caused Henri Paul, who was speeding, to swerve and in doing so he "over-reacted" and lost control of the car.

WHY WAS THE CRASH FATAL?

The occupants of the Mercedes, which was speeding at 60-70 mph, were supremely unlucky in the exact point of impact, the corner of one of the square pillars in the Alma tunnel.

Had it hit either the flat side of the pillar or the opposite side wall it would have very likely glanced off and had a much less serious crash, said collision investigator Anthony Read.

The fact that the front of the car hit a narrow object - the corner of the pillar - also meant the vehicle could not absorb energy by crumpling as it was designed to, he added.

The three occupants who died were not wearing seatbelts, the inquest heard, although the sole survivor, Diana's bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones (now known as Trevor Rees) may have been putting his on as the crash happened.

WERE DIANA AND DODI ABOUT TO ANNOUNCE THEIR ENGAGEMENT?

This is not known. Dodi certainly visited an exclusive jewellers, Repossi, near the Ritz hotel on 30 August, as CCTV footage shows him there.

RING RECEIPT

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Receipts from this visit show he spent 115,000 FF (11,650 approx) on what the jeweller noted as a "bague fiancailles" or engagement ring from the "dis-moi oui" (tell me yes) range.

However, Diana and Dodi had been in a relationship for only a matter of weeks, and several friends testified that she was highly unlikely to have considered marriage after such a short time.

Diana's close friend, Rosa Monckton, said Diana had told her Dodi was showering her with gifts and had said: "I know that he is going to give me a ring, but that is going to go firmly on a finger on my right hand."

WAS THERE A PLOT BY MI6 AND PRINCE PHILIP TO KILL DIANA?

The coroner specifically ruled this out, saying there was not a "shred of evidence" to support the theory.

Sir Richard Dearlove
Former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, gave evidence
In his summing-up, Lord Justice Scott Baker told the jury: "There is no evidence that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered Diana's execution, and there is no evidence that the secret intelligence service or any other government agency organised it."

Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6 and director of operations at the time of Diana's death, testified that no assassinations had been carried out under his authority, nor had he known of any in his entire career from 1966 to 2004.

He said Mohammed Al Fayed's suggestion that the UK was really run by Prince Philip and the security services was "absurd" and "completely off the map".

DID THE PRINCESS FEAR FOR HER LIFE?

Yes, according to the late Lord Mishcon, Diana's former lawyer.

MISHCON NOTE

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In a note dated 31 October 1995, he said Diana had told him that she had been informed by "sources" that the Queen would abdicate to make way for Prince Charles.

Diana said efforts would be made to sideline her by engineering a car accident which, if it did not "get rid of her", would at least injure her enough to have her declared "unbalanced".

The princess's former boyfriend Hasnat Khan also said in a written statement that Diana got rid of her black Audi car in 1995 telling him she was worried the brakes had been tampered with.

"I would say that Diana was concerned about her safety, but was not paranoid about it," he said.


All documents reproduced are from the official inquest website: www.scottbaker-inquests.gov.uk


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