THE DEATH OF DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES
(August 31, 1997 — Paris, France)
The Official Story
White Fiat Uno and James Andanson
Analysis of the wreckage of the Mercedes revealed it had glancing contact with a white Fiat Uno car which left traces of paint on the Mercedes bodywork. Extensive attempts by the French police to find the vehicle involved were unsuccessful. Although no one had seen the Fiat in the tunnel, some witnesses reported seeing an Uno exiting the tunnel.
Mohamed Al-Fayed alleged in his July 2005 statement to Operation Paget, and at other times, that the white Fiat Uno was being used by MI6 as a means of causing the Mercedes to swerve and thereby crash into the side of the tunnel. Al-Fayed further alleged that the Fiat Uno was owned by a French photojournalist named Jean-Paul James Andanson, a security services agent according to Al-Fayed, who had photographed Diana while she was at his villa in St. Tropez in July 1997. Andanson’s death in May 2000, Al-Fayed claimed, was either due to guilt over what he had done or because he was assassinated by the French or British security services to silence him.
Operation Paget found that the white Fiat Uno Andanson owned was in an unroadworthy condition, being nine years old at the time, with 325,000 km on the odometer (suggesting that the car had been driven 27,000 miles per annum) and had not been maintained for several years prior. Andanson’s neighbours confirmed the veracity of this evidence. Andanson had sold the car in October 1997. Operation Paget concluded it was extremely unlikely due to the car’s condition and the fact Andanson had so openly disposed of it that it was the one at the scene of the crash in Paris. French police had examined Andanson’s car as part of their effort to trace the one that had come into contact with the Mercedes with a view to prosecuting the driver for failing to render assistance and had reached the same conclusion. The French police spent a year after the crash searching for the vehicle and eliminated over 4,000 white Fiat Unos from their inquiry. Operation Paget decided it would be unlikely that renewed enquiries would identify the vehicle involved, as such a long period had elapsed since the crash. It concluded the threat of prosecution for a custodial offence probably deterred the driver from coming forward at the time.
A retired major in the French Brigade Criminelle, Jean Claude Mules, gave evidence to the inquest in February 2008. Andanson had been interviewed by French police in February 1998, and had been able to provide documentary evidence about his movements on the previous 30 and 31 August which had satisfied them that he could not have been the driver of the Fiat Uno involved. These demonstrated that Andanson could only have been at his home in Lignieres, 177 mi (285 km) from Paris, at the time of the crash. Elizabeth, his widow, said at the London inquest in February 2008 that her husband had been at home in bed with her at the time of the crash.
Andanson died in May 2000. The official verdict was suicide. His body was found in a black, burnt-out BMW in a forest near the town of Nant, near Millau, in Southern France. Andanson’s death was attributed to problems in his private life. The 2008 inquest into the death of the Princess of Wales heard that evidence was uncovered from his friends and associates that prior to his death he had talked of suicide by pouring petrol in a car and lighting a cigar, as noted by Richard Horwell QC, for the Metropolitan Commissioner.
The Paget report states that when the car was found, Andanson’s body was in the driver’s seat of the car, and his head was detached and lay between the front seats. There was a hole in his left temple. The French pathologist concluded this hole was caused by the intense heat of the fire rather than, for example, a bullet wound.
Operation Paget found no evidence Andanson was known to any security service and, contrary to Al-Fayed’s claims, his death was thoroughly investigated by French police (although the whereabouts of the car keys has never been explained). A break-in at his former workplace in June 2000 alleged to have been carried out by security services was found to be unconnected to his death, as no items related to him were stolen.