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Carbon monoxide levels would render driver incapacitated

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Diana driver parents in DNA fight

LONDON, England --The parents of the French driver blamed for the car crash that killed Princess Diana say that they are taking legal action to attempt to clear his name.

Henri Paul died in the crash in a Paris traffic tunnel that also killed Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed in August, 1997. An investigation concluded that Paul had been drinking and was driving at a high speed.

Jean and Gisele Paul, who have always rejected the idea that their son was a heavy drinker, now say they believe the blood sample taken at the time of the accident was not their son's.

"We want to know the truth. We're certain that our son wasn't drunk," Paul's mother, Gisele Paul, told BBC radio's "Today" programme.

"We don't accept it... They say parents can be biased, but everyone he knew would say the same," she added, speaking through a translator.

The Pauls did not specify what legal action they are taking, but said they want the French government to hand over the blood sample for DNA tests. They say the high level of carbon monoxide found in his blood would have rendered him incapable of walking, let alone driving a car.

Gisele Paul said 30 autopsies were done at a Paris morgue on the day Paul's body was taken there.

"You can imagine how they could have been mixed up. You can see how there could have been a mistake," she told the BBC.

The French authorities have so far refused to release the blood.

The Pauls say they don't know whether their son was blamed through a mistake or deliberate deception. They say they just want to clear his name.

"Historically the impression left was that our son was Princess Diana's assassin. That is false," said Jean Paul.

In April this year France's highest court, the Court of Cassation upheld the dismissal by the investigator of manslaughter charges against nine photographers and a press motorcyclist who were in pursuit of the Mercedes as it entered the Alma tunnel in Paris.

The Court of Cassation dismissed an appeal lodged by Dodi's father Mohamad Al Fayed in September 1999 after French Judge Herve Stephan ruled that alcohol, drugs and excessive speed caused the crash.

Al Fayed, millionaire owner of Harrods department store in London, has long denounced Stephan's decision, which followed a two-year investigation, for failing to take into account the photographers' role in the crash.

He alleged the photographers contributed directly to the accident by giving chase to the couple's car and as a result forcing Paul to accelerate to dangerous speeds.

Al Fayed has also long claimed the deaths were a murder conspiracy plotted by people who disapproved of Diana's relationship with his son.

The Pauls said their legal case was being bankrolled by friends. They said Al Fayed was not involved.

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