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Suggestions she was pregnant { August 31 1997 }

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Diana: Al Fayed 'wants truth'
8.39AM BST, 31 Aug 2003

Mohamed al Fayed has said he is determined to "discover the truth" behind the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and his son Dodi, on the sixth anniversary of the tragedy.

Dodi's father has called for a public inquiry to investigate the full details of the devastating 1997 crash in a Paris underpass.

Driver Henri Paul was also killed in the crash on August 31, 1997, and bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones suffered severe facial injuries.

On Friday it was announced that inquests would be held in the UK into the deaths of Diana and her lover, but dates for the hearings have not yet been set.

Mr al Fayed, who still maintains that the couple were assassinated by the British Secret Service, said: "As each year passes my determination to discover the truth about why this tragedy happened grows stronger.

"I am supported by fair-minded people everywhere who know this was not an accident.

"And I am encouraged by signs that we may, at last, be having an inquest into the tragedy and, hopefully, the public inquiry which I have sought for so long."

Mr al Fayed said he would take comfort, on this "intensely emotional day" from "messages of support from millions of ordinary people".

"I know that millions around the world are taking time to remember these two lovely young people who had their lives so cruelly ended at the moment of their greatest happiness," he said.

Since 1983 British law has insisted that an inquest should be conducted in every case where a body is returned to Britain following a death abroad.

But police investigations in France and a seemingly endless series of legal complications there have delayed the Diana case.

Speculation that an inquest would begin this year mounted following the appointment of a new Coroner for the Royal Household, Michael Burgess, last year.

He is regarded as being more in favour of holding an inquest into Diana's death while his predecessor Dr John Burton believed the French investigation made an inquest here unnecessary.

On Friday, Mr Burgess made clear that "in time and as the law requires" inquests would be held into the deaths of Diana and Dodi.

Mr al Fayed still denies the findings of Judge Herve Stephan, who carried out the two-year French investigation into the crash, interviewing 200 witnesses and compiling 6,000 pages of evidence.

Stephan concluded that the crash was caused by Paul driving too fast while under the influence of drink and drugs.

Mr al Fayed has also supported a court action launched by Henri Paul's parents against the finding that he was drunk.

The Stephan investigation concluded in September 1999 but Mr al Fayed refused to accept the exoneration of nine photographers and a motorcyclist who had chased the crash car.

It was only in April last year that his appeal against that decision was dismissed bringing the French investigation officially to an end and clearing the way for an inquest here.

The inquest would be conducted by Mr Burgess and, were he to appoint a jury, the members would come from the 2,000 members of the Royal Household.

All inquests into royal deaths must be held in "part of the Royal Household" and have previously been staged at St James's Palace.

Jurisdiction for the Diana inquest only passed to the Royal Coroner because her body was initially brought to St James's Palace.

Coincidentally, Mr Burgess is also the Surrey coroner and is holding the inquest on Dodi Fayed because he was buried there.

However, experts do not believe that would make a joint inquest more likely.

An inquest on Diana would be the first time one has been held into the death of a member of the royal family since 1972, when Prince William of Gloucester, the Queen's cousin, died in an air accident

Courtiers fear it would lead to another media feeding frenzy on the House of Windsor and that a public trawl through the details of the crash could have a traumatic effect on Princes William and Harry.

The inquest would be expected to reveal results of a post-mortem examination thought to have been carried out on Diana by a Home Office pathologist, settling one way or the other suggestions that she was pregnant.

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