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Friday, September 3, 1999 Published at 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK

UK: Wales

Diana bodyguard cleared in crash inquiry

Henri Paul had been unable to control the Mercedes, said the report

All charges against the nine photographers and the press motorcyclist implicated in the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, have been dropped.

The Diana Report
Princess Diana's Welsh bodyguard Trevor Rees Jones was also cleared of any blame by a French investigating magistrate for the crash in August 1997.

Friends of Mr Rees Jones said he had been dreading the publication of the report but respected the findings of the French magistrate.

[ image: Trevor Rees-Jones gave evidence in Paris]
Trevor Rees-Jones gave evidence in Paris
Although looking forward to the future he had not decided what he would do and was dividing his time between working part time at a friend's sports shop in Oswestry, working out in a local gym and training with Oswestry rugby club.

He will be playing in the team's first game of the season this weekend.

The report into the car accident in Paris found that Ritz hotel chauffeur Henri Paul was mainly to blame because he was drunk and under the influence of anti-depressants.

He died alongside the princess and Dodi Fayed in the crash.

The BBC's Jon Sopel reports: "This will be controversial"
It had been widely expected that the investigating magistrate would not pursue manslaughter charges against the photographers.

The French public prosecutor had recommended that no action be taken, although there was no obligation on Judge Herve Stephan to follow that advice.

There will also be no action over charges of failing to assist persons in danger, an offence under French law.

The photographers, who acknowledge tailing Diana, had claimed they were made scapegoats and maintained throughout the investigation that they bore no responsibility for the accident.

[ image: Mohamed al-Fayed will appeal against the decision]
Mohamed al-Fayed will appeal against the decision
Earl Spencer, who criticised the media after the death of his sister, Princess Diana, said after the publication of the report that he agreed with its legal conclusions.

Judge Stephan also concluded that Dodi Fayed's decision to order an off-duty security official, who was drunk, to drive the Mercedes had contributed to the crash.

But the report added that Dodi could not be reproached for his actions.

His father, Harrods and Ritz Hotel owner Mohamed al-Fayed, says he will appeal against the findings.

He has said that he is prepared to take his case to the Supreme Court in an attempt to find those responsible for the crash.

Mohamed al-Fayed's spokesman Laurie Mayer: "Without the chase, there would have been no crash"
"Mr al-Fayed has the resources and the will and has vowed to find out exactly why his son and the others died," said his spokesman Laurie Mayer.

Judge Stephan and Marie-Christine Devidal, the other investigating judge, focused on the actions of Henri Paul, who was found to be three times over the drink-drive limit.

"His state did not allow him to control the speeding car on a difficult portion of the road," the magistrates said.

"He also had to avoid a vehicle travelling in the same direction but at much lower speed."

This might refer to the mysterious white Fiat Uno, suspected of brushing the Mercedes but which has never been found.

[ image: Paul: Three times over the drink-drive limit]
Paul: Three times over the drink-drive limit
The judges justified the investigation into the photographers' role, saying that their actions could have played a part in the crash.

But the investigation "did not formally find a definite link between the accident and those under investigation".

The judge did note, however, that the photographers' behaviour had been severely criticised by several witnesses.

He said that their actions, despite their moral and ethical implications, did not "constitute an infraction of the criminal code".

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