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1997: Diana driver was 'drunk and speeding'

The driver of the car in which Princess Diana was fatally injured had criminal levels of alcohol in his blood and may have been travelling at over 100 mph (161 km/h), French investigators have revealed.

The Prosecutors' Office in Paris said Henri Paul had three times the French legal limit of alcohol in his blood - the equivalent of double the British limit or 10 glasses of wine.

Sources close to the investigation also said the speedometer in the crashed Mercedes was jammed at 120 mph (196 km/h) when it hit a concrete pillar in the Place d'Alma underpass on Saturday night.

But a lawyer representing Mohammed al Fayed - whose son Dodi was also killed in the crash - insisted the paparazzi chasing the car were to blame.

"It is an offence of the attempt of violation of private life - and that offence caused what happened later," he said.

A doctor who went to the aid of the princess, Frederic Maillez, reported seeing photographers at the scene immediately after the accident.

"There were many of them - 10 or 15 - and they were snapping away at the car non-stop," he said.


"It is never safe to drive at 120 mph through any city"

Conrad King, defensive driving expert

The armoured Mercedes carrying the princess, her friend Dodi Al Fayed and a bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones left the Ritz Hotel in Paris at 2330 local time (2230 BST).

Mr Paul lost control of the car 10 minutes later, shortly after it entered the underpass.

The hotel said the Ritz deputy head of security had been trained in advanced driving, but an expert at the RAC said a professional driver would have been more cautious.

"It is never safe to drive at 120 mph (196 km/h) through any city or built-up area," he said.

The key witness and only survivor of the crash, Mr Rees-Jones, is still in intensive care, but said to be stable.

In Context
Trevor Rees-Jones survived, but the head injuries he sustained wiped his memories of the accident.

He was the only person in the car wearing a seat belt.

The crash has proved fertile ground for conspiracy theorists who claim the princess was assassinated because of her connections with the Al Fayed family.

But even though a Fiat Uno possibly involved in the crash was never traced, the conclusions of the French investigation were largely the same as the initial findings - that Henri Paul had drunk too much and was driving too fast.

The photographers chasing the car were severely criticised for their behaviour, but no criminal action was taken against them.


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