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Survivor of diana crash lied to police about seatbelt { January 23 2008 }

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Diana Inquest: Sole Survivor Testifies
January 23, 2008

LONDON (AP) The bodyguard who was the sole survivor of the high-speed crash that killed Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed said Wednesday that he had no memory of the last moments of the fatal trip through Paris.

Trevor Rees, who was severely injured in the crash on Aug. 31, 1997, also denied allegations by Fayed's father that he had participated in a cover-up of the truth.

"I am not part of any conspiracy to suppress the truth at all," he testified at the inquest into the deaths. "All I have ever done is give the truth as I see it."

He said he has had flashbacks of hearing a woman say "Dodi," apparently just after the crash, but remembers little else.

"I have no memory of after leaving the back of the hotel. That's my last true memory," Rees said.

Psychiatrist Maurice Lispedge said in a statement to the court on Tuesday that the chances of Rees recovering his memory were slight.

As Rees gave evidence from the witness box at London's High Court, scars from the accident could still be seen on his face and head. It was reported at the time of the crash that every bone in his face was broken.

Rees and driver Henri Paul were in the front seat of the Mercedes 280, which slammed into a concrete pillar in a road tunnel in Paris.

Rees, who was known as Rees-Jones at the time of the accident, resigned from Mohamed Al Fayed's security team in April 1998.

Al Fayed contends that the couple were victims of a murder plot directed by Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, and has accused Rees of being influenced by British security services.

Al Fayed has said that Rees' book, "The Bodyguard's Story," published in 2000, was a "tissue of lies and deceit designed to denigrate me and to support the British authorities' account that the deaths of my son and Princess Diana were the result of a simple traffic accident."

In a letter to British investigators in 2006, Al Fayed said Rees "knows the detail which the security services are so eager to suppress, including why (driver) Henri Paul took the route via the Alma tunnel, the motorcycle which blocked their exit, the flashlight which blinded the driver the list is endless."

Rees has been reported to be the only person in the car who was wearing a seat belt, but British police concluded that he was not. French investigators concluded there was some evidence that Rees was attempting to secure his belt at the moment of the crash.

In a statement to British investigators, Rees said he urged Dodi Fayed to abandon his plan to try to sneak out of the rear entrance to the Ritz Hotel with the princess.

"Although neither Kes (Wingfield, another bodyguard) nor I had a problem with Henri Paul driving, I strongly advised Dodi that we should leave from the front where the usual driver ... was waiting.

"Dodi would not listen to my reasoning and was having none of it. I told him that if he insisted on this plan of leaving from the rear that I would also insist that I should at least travel with him so that he had some security," Rees said.

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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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