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Case closed?

Mike Rudin Mike Rudin | 11:16 UK time, Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Normally an inquest takes place within months of a death. This one came after ten years, three coroners and millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

Princess DianaNot only did something extraordinary and tragic happen on the last day of summer in 1997 when Princess Diana, her companion Dodi Al Fayed and the driver Henri Paul, died in the crash in Paris; but something extraordinary has happened ever since.

There’s been ten years for conspiracy theories to evolve, mutate and grow ever more elaborate.

Ten years for officials to try to get to terms with a new phenomenon a truly modern conspiracy theory – developed on the internet, relayed on the mass media and eagerly consumed around the world.

We’ve had the initial two-year French judicial inquiry, then Lord Stevens’ Metropolitan Policy inquiry, Operation Paget, at a cost of £3.7m and now an inquest over six months and costing on a conservative estimate another £3.6m. The total cost to British taxpayers of investigating Princess Diana's death is expected to exceed £10m.

Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed CCTV imageLord Stevens said he hoped the clear verdict that Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed were unlawfully killed due to the "gross negligence" of driver Henri Paul and the paparazzi could bring “closure to what has been a traumatic event”.

Will the inquest verdict finally end the speculation? I doubt it.

Last night Mohamed Al Fayed refused to accept the verdict. He said both the French and the Metropolitan police inquiries were wrong and he insisted that Diana was murdered: "I'm not the only person who says they were murdered. Diana predicted she would be murdered and how it would happen.”

As tonight’s Conspiracy Files Special, produced by Diana Martin, shows new evidence has helped resolve some of the key questions.

For example, it's confirmed there definitely was a second car, a white Fiat Uno, which collided with the Princess’s Mercedes; all the evidence suggests Diana was not pregnant; and it's now acknowledged that her driver Henri Paul had definitely been drinking that night - he ordered and drank two Ricards in the Ritz bar, the equivalent of three measures of whisky.

The coroner said the inquest had served "an important purpose" by examining the conspiracy theories "in minute detail" through the evidence of more than 250 witnesses. Lord Justice Scott Baker concluded that there “is not a shred of evidence” to support the theory that Princess Diana was assassinated by MI6 or any other government agency. But with many important French witnesses refusing to appear before the inquest, some questions will remain unanswered.

Forensic scientists reviewing the toxicological evidence have not been able to explain high levels of carbon monoxide in Henri Paul’s blood samples - which some people claim is evidence that the samples were switched. And a key witness, the driver of the white Fiat Uno has still not been identified.

The investigative journalist Gerald Posner puts that down to the faults of the initial French inquiry. But he tells the programme conspiracy theories have a life of their own:

"When you present solid and credible evidence to somebody who has embraced a conspiracy theory it is extremely difficult to have them give up on their belief. They will claim the evidence you presented has been planted, tampered with, faked by the conspirators themselves. It’s almost impossible to get someone to change their minds."

So was it all necessary? Well yes if so many doubts persist about such a public figure.

We now have a verdict that Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed were unlawfully killed due to the actions of driver Henri Paul and the pursuing paparazzi. But should it all have taken ten years to get to this stage?

Of course officials in the UK are not alone in having to deal with counter theories.

In the United States nearly seven years on from 9/11 and yet despite tens of millions of dollars being spent on official inquiries the debate about what really happened on 11 September 2001 continues.

The final, or so it’s planned to be, official report has still to be published and it is due out this summer.

The subject is a third tower that collapsed that day. The 610ft (186m), 47-storey skyscraper collapsed in a few seconds but it was never hit by a plane. According to the official investigators it is the first and only skyscraper in the world to have collapsed solely due to fire.

Later this spring on BBC Two, The Conspiracy Files will report on World Trade Centre Building 7 – a building that has become a rallying cry for those who question the official account of what happened on 9/11.

How Diana Died: A Conspiracy Files Special will be broadcast on Tuesday 8 April 2008 at 1900 BST on BBC Two.


  • 1.
  • At 03:45 PM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • Phil wrote:

I've never much subscribed to the conspiracy theories (other than the one where they were both poisoned by a grassy knoll!) but there was much about this 'definitive' inquest that bothered me. Leaving aside the obvious problems like the lack of evidence from the paparazzi or the inability of the French to find the 'white Fiat' there were other problems.

Firstly, the video evidence taken in the lifts in the Ritz clearly show Diana wearing different outfits - but according to the evidence timeline there was no mention of any opportunity where she could have changed clothes. So, either the timeline is wrong or one of those two videos isn't what it purports to be.

Secondly, the intelligence services lie as a profession. I'm not saying they shouldn't because I'm sure that would detract from their effectiveness but most of the answers given don't actually answer the questions put - except where to do otherwise would be laughable. Would they admit any involvement in a plot to kill Diana? Of course they wouldn't. Even calling them to give evidence was a pointless exercise.

Of course the biggest question is why did it take 10 years to call an inquest?

So, is it all over? No. Because other 'evidence' will come to light - maybe not for many years but eventually.

This one will runa and run.

  • 2.
  • At 04:30 PM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • Rodney Kumar wrote:

Isn't it time we stopped coming up with all these ridiculous fairy tales, and just let the facts speak for themselves? We seem to wind ourselves up into knots, and give every half-baked work of fiction credibility. It's getting very dull.

  • 3.
  • At 04:49 PM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • Ynda wrote:

Hi Mike,

I'm glad you are doing a report on WTC 7. Unlike the Diana death, there is alot of physical and verifiable evidence to contradict the official story here. I hope this is more eye openning than the bbc's twin towers documentary! :-)

  • 4.
  • At 04:54 PM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • David Weller wrote:

The inquest verdict will change nothing. Those who believe that Diana was murdered will merely claim that the inquest itself is just part of the cover-up.

  • 5.
  • At 07:04 PM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • nick wrote:

the problem is, with such a complexity of evidence, so much having taken place, and most of us standing a long way from the actual incident, the conspiracy theories could turn out to be true. or maybe not. we can only go of a balance of probabilities, and
plain common sense. in the end the only people who may know the truth is Dianne and dodi, who are now in the spirit realms, and the driver. at least keep an open mind.
for real conspiracy theories backed by lots of evidence, look at

Conspiracy theories cannot be explained.

Like everything else that comes from crackpots and is believed by idiots they are based on false evidence presented in a way that sounds plausible.

Considering the fact that the vast majority of people, and especially the Princes, want this story closed down and to move on, I think the broadcast of this programme tonight (rescheduled) is irresponsible and shameless opportunism.

There is no justifiable editorial basis for this rescheduling.

If you have to make this programme, at least broadcast in a couple of years time at 2 o'clock in the morning rather than shoving it down the throats of normal, intelligent people.

  • 7.
  • At 08:17 PM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • Cat wrote:

In general I think that most of the conspiracy theories surrounding the 9/11 attacks are just a desperate attempt to make sense of what happened that day but I will definitely watch the programme on WTC7 to find out quite how the BBC managed to announce the building had collapsed when it could still clearly be seen standing behind the reporter....

  • 8.
  • At 08:43 PM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • Andrew Brown wrote:

How much more Diana stuff are we going to be subjected to? Is it not enough to have twenty minutes of a half hour news programme devoted to this, without rescheduling torchwood, without notice? For heavens sake LET IT DROP. After ten years, I for one am heartily sick of the subject, let the poor woman rest in peace and give the rest of us a break!

  • 9.
  • At 09:13 PM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • R Weston wrote:

1. The British Royal family have been disposing of the problematic amongst them for centuries.

2. The only possible 'evidence' would come from MI6 - except it never would.

3. There was never any paper trail anyway - these things are done quietly spoken.

  • 10.
  • At 01:08 AM on 09 Apr 2008,
  • tom wrote:

If you look at the Have Your Say comments (not that the BBC makes it easy) you'll see that 90% of the posters are really fed up with all the diana coverage and wish the BBC (and other media) would just give it a rest.

While I guess the public is at fault for reading and watching all the Diana news, they hardly had any choice. Its been newspapers and tv shows driving 99% of the conspiracy theories... almost all of which have later turned out to be totally untrue and very bad journalism.

Though of course that then lest the media do a whole new range of coverage debunking the myths that they carelessly created.

I usually have a high regard for the BBC, and defend them against a lot of criticisms.. but seriously.. give the Diana trash a rest already!

  • 11.
  • At 08:15 AM on 09 Apr 2008,
  • Kaz Griffiths wrote:

I was one of the millions of people who mourned Princess Diana when she died in 1997. I don't think ANYONE will EVER know the truth about what happened that night, the conspiries theories will always be there just like they are with so many other untimely deaths of people in the public eye (JFK & Marilyn Monroe) and so it's time to let Diana and her family rest in peace., I only wish the Royal Family hadn't taken away her HRH status and then she would have still received the protection from the proper guys....

  • 12.
  • At 11:08 AM on 09 Apr 2008,
  • Virgil H. Soule wrote:

Uno or no Uno, if guard rails had been installed on the support pillars in the Alma tunnel, the horrendous crash that killed Diana wouldn't have happened. The French with their poor safety design standards should share the blame for her death. As for the paprazzi, they are nothing more than stalkers and beggars trying to make a quick buck at someone else's expense. The practice should be outlawed altogether.

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