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Al fayed takes diana crash back to court { December 16 2003 }

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Al Fayed takes Diana crash back to court
Suspicion of MI6 'reasonable', Scottish judge told

Kirsty Scott
Tuesday December 16, 2003
The Guardian

Counsel for Mr Fayed, Richard Keen, QC, told the court of session in Edinburgh there were numerous matters which cast "material doubt" on the official theory that the crash in Paris in August 1997 had been an accident.
In a landmark action, Mr Fayed is seeking a judicial review of a decision made earlier this year by Scotland's lord advocate to refuse to hold a public inquiry into the deaths.

Mr Keen told the judge, Lord Drummond Young, that Mr Fayed had been portrayed as paranoid by some sections of the media for his claims that the security services knew more than they were prepared to admit, but said his suspicions had been shared by the princess.

"It is not the petitioner who first mooted the idea that sections of the establishment might be prepared to remove an inconvenient Princess of Wales by means of a car crash," said Mr Keen, referring to the recently publicised letter that Diana had written in October 1996.

"If the Princess of Wales's own fears had one ounce of truth in October 1996, one is entitled to ask how much greater they may have been in August 1997, when it was generally anticipated a person openly denigrated by sections of the establishment was about to become the stepfather to the future king, because that was the consequence of events taking place in Paris on August 31 in 1997," he said.

Mr Fayed, dressed in a tartan jacket, listened as Mr Keen detailed claims by Richard Tomlinson, a former MI6 agent, that the car crash bore "certain striking similarities" to a plan he had seen to assassinate the former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic.

"It has, of course, been maintained that the security services don't indulge in such activities," said Mr Keen. "Mr Fayed might have some cause to doubt that."

Mr Keen said Mr Tomlinson had confirmed that Diana was being monitored by British security services in France and that MI6 had a "long-standing informant" at the Ritz hotel in Paris. The assistant head of security at the Ritz, Henri Paul, was driving the Mercedes when it crashed. Mr Keen said Mr Paul had been earning 20,000 a year in his hotel job, but was found to have 13 bank accounts containing more than 1.2m francs (then about 120,000), "which might suggest that he had some form of part-time job".

Mr Keen also said independent analysis of Mr Paul's post-mortem cast doubt on the conclusion that he was an alcoholic and had been inebriated at the time of the crash. Immediately after the crash in the Alma tunnel, the French authorities had indicated through Scotland Yard that the circumstances of the crash were suspicious. Mr Keen criticised the investigation into the crash by the French police, aspects of which, he said, were "almost Clouseau-esque".

Mr Keen explained how Mr Fayed had been told that 10 traffic cameras on the "highly unusual" route followed by the Mercedes car had not been working, nor had a speed camera, although one driver claimed he had been caught speeding by the camera 15 minutes before the crash.

Speaking before the case, which is expected to last five days, Mr Fayed said he was acting for the country in pushing for a public inquiry. Calls for an inquiry in England have already been rejected. "The most beautiful woman in the world was murdered with my son," he said. "I have been fighting for six years, but I can see the light and justice can be done."

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