MIDWAY : Diana inquest

On Sept. 3, 1999, judge Herve Stephan presented the results of his inquiry into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, Dodi Fayed, and their driver Henri Paul in a Paris car crash. The inquiry had taken two years to complete and the report — 6,000 pages long — incorporated the statements of nearly 200 witnesses. It concluded that the crash was “caused by the fact that the driver of the car was inebriated and under the effects of drugs incompatible with alcohol”.

On Dec. 14 2006, Lord Stevens, former Scotland Yard commissioner, presented his report into the incident. It may have run to a less impressive 872 pages, but it summarised the findings of an inquiry that had lasted three years and interviewed 300 witnesses. It concluded, astonishingly, that the Mercedes was travelling too fast, that Paul was more than two times over the British drink-drive limit.

Now it may have escaped your attention, but the vital UK inquest into this selfsame event is currently under way in court 73 of the high court in London. Among its many exciting revelations thus far are that Diana was on the pill (probably not pregnant); that she was alive for a short while after the accident; that one of the first paparazzi to reach the scene tried to flog a picture of it for $600,000; and that the driver of the ambulance that took Diana to hospital did not drive deliberately slowly just to make sure she died.

Our knowledge has also been enriched through such disclosures as the fact that the palace “frowned on Diana’s relationships with men”; that it would have been “virtually impossible” to deliberately engineer a glancing collision between the couple’s S-class Mercedes and an ancient white Fiat Uno outside the underpass; and that French medics “fought for three hours to save the princess”.

Now call me ungrateful, but I’m pretty sure those of us who were in Paris at the time — and our readers — knew most of the above approximately 36 hours after the crash. Still, at

least the tabloids are still interested: you may, if you are lucky, catch a few paragraphs here and there.

And I’m sure something new will crop up before April. We wouldn’t want to be spending GBP10m ($20m) of taxpayers’ money for nothing, would we?