Parents of Henri Paul file suit to clear his name


The longest, most costly investigation into a Paris traffic accident could be reopened at the demand of the parents of Mr Henri Paul, the driver of Princess Diana and her companion, Mr Dodi Fayed.

The three were killed on August 31st, 1997, when the Mercedes driven by Mr Paul crashed in a traffic tunnel beside the Seine. An investigation conducted by Judge Hervé Stéphane found their deaths were due to "a banal combination of drunk-driving, high speed and the configuration of the place".

But Mr Paul's parents, Gisèle and Jean, contested that conclusion in their first interview, broadcast yesterday by the BBC. "Historically, the impression left is that our son was Princess Diana's killer," Mr Paul said. "It is false." "We're certain that our son wasn't drunk. We don't accept it," Mrs Paul said. "It's easy to attack a dead man. We would have known if he was drinking. We would have seen it."

The Pauls claimed two blood samples must have been taken from another body in the morgue. A normal person would not have been able to stand, let alone drive, with such high levels of alcohol and carbon monoxide, they explained.

The couple have filed a civil suit to demand a DNA test on the samples, saying they will accept the result if an independent test proves the blood was their son's.

Mr Paul worked as a private security officer at the Ritz Hotel, owned by Mr Mohamed al-Fayed, Dodi's father. The Frenchman lived alone and was taking anti-depressants, which he mixed with alcohol on the night of the fatal accident. His parents say he could not have passed a medical examination for a pilot's licence three days earlier if he had a drinking problem.

The Pauls said friends of their son are funding their legal action, but denied it was Mr al-Fayed.

The Egyptian-born millionaire blamed nine photographers, who followed the Mercedes, for the deaths of Princess Diana and his son. His last appeal was rejected by the French Court of Cassation on April 4th and he is now suing the photographers for invasion of privacy.

The crash sparked numerous conspiracy theories. Police conducted checks on 40,000 cars and questioned 3,000 drivers in a fruitless search for a white Fiat rumoured to have been involved.