THE DEATH OF DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES
(August 31, 1997 — Paris, France)
(British Metropolitan Police Inquiry)
The Official Story
(Investigation into the conspiracy theories about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales)
Operation Paget was the British Metropolitan Police inquiry established in 2004 to investigate the conspiracy theories about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. The inquiry’s first report with the findings of the criminal investigation was published in 2006. The inquiry was wound up following the conclusion of the British inquest in 2008, in which a jury delivered its verdict of an “unlawful killing” by the driver and the pursuing paparazzi.
The criminal investigation in the United Kingdom was initiated on 6 January 2004 when the coroner of the Queen’s Household, Michael Burgess, asked the then Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir John Stevens, to conduct enquiries into allegations of a cover-up and conspiracy: that MI6, under the orders of the royal family, deliberately caused the fatal car crash in Paris that killed Diana and Dodi.
The investigation was legally necessary; once the inquest into the deaths got under way in the United Kingdom, it became apparent to the coroner that allegations were being made that a crime had taken place on UK soil: namely, conspiracy to murder. Coroners are legally obliged to refer to the police any information or evidence that comes before them concerning a suspected or actual crime. The basis of the investigation was public statements made mainly by Dodi Fayed’s father, Mohamed Al-Fayed.
The investigation initially was confined to the general premise of the alleged conspiracy, but was eventually broadened to cover every associated allegation made through the media, in legal submissions, and in formal correspondence since the crash. The level of detail of the investigation is reflected in the report’s length at 832 pages which took a team of fourteen experienced police officers nearly three years to compile. Accident Investigation experts from TRL assisted the police enquiry.
The British police also carried out investigations in Paris. Because of public interest in Diana, the Metropolitan Police decided to publish the report on the internet, although it had been drafted as an internal police document. The criminal investigation was expected to cost at least 2 million pounds. The cost of the inquiry eventually exceeded £12.5 million, with the coroner’s inquest at £4.5 million, and a further £8 million spent on the Metropolitan Police investigation.
Criminal investigation report
The criminal investigation report’s chapter titles are:
- Whether driver error on the part of Henri Paul caused or contributed to the cause of the collision
- Whether Henri Paul’s ability to drive was impaired through drink or drugs
- Whether a Fiat Uno or any other vehicle caused or contributed to the collision
- Whether the actions of the Paparazzi caused or contributed to the cause of the collision
- Whether the road/tunnel layout and construction were inherently dangerous and, if so, whether this contributed to the collision
- Whether any bright/flashing lights contributed to or caused the collision and, if so, their source
- Whose decision it was that Diana and Dodi Al Fayed should leave from the rear entrance to the Ritz and that Henri Paul should drive the vehicle
- Henri Paul’s movements between 7 and 10 pm on 30 August 1997
- The explanation for the money in Henri Paul’s possession on 30 August 1997 and in his bank account
- Whether Andanson, a photographer who followed the princess in the week before her death, was in Paris on the night of the collision
- Whether Diana’s life would have been saved if she had reached hospital sooner or if her medical treatment had been different
- Whether Diana was pregnant
- Whether Diana and Dodi Al Fayed were about to announce their engagement
- Whether and, if so in what circumstances, the Princess of Wales feared for her life
- The circumstances relating to the purchase of the ring
- The circumstances in which Diana’s body was embalmed
- Whether the evidence of Tomlinson throws any light on the collision
- Whether the British or any other security services had any involvement in the collision
- Whether there was anything sinister about (i) the Cherruault burglary or (ii) the disturbance at the Big Pictures agency
- Whether correspondence belonging to Diana (including some from Prince Philip) has disappeared, and if so the circumstances.
Conclusion of Criminal Investigation Report
Each chapter of the report concluded that all allegations made since the crash of conspiracy were without foundation and all the evidence obtained point to the deaths of Diana and Fayed as being the result of a tragic accident. The script for the 2007 television docudrama Diana: Last Days of a Princess borrowed heavily from testimony in the Paget report.
Angela Gallop‘s analysis of Diana’s stomach content proved to Operation Paget that Diana was not pregnant when she died.
On 3 April 2007, the deputy coroner of the Queen’s Household, Baroness Butler-Sloss, decided to grant access to the evidence collected by the criminal investigation to lawyers for Mohammed Al-Fayed to assist them in putting together their case in support of the conspiracy allegation for the inquest to begin in October 2007. On 15 May 2007, it was revealed by Baroness Butler-Sloss that the underlying material collected by the criminal investigation team ran to more than 11,000 pages when printed out and also consisted of more than 1,400 photographs, several DVDs, large-sized plans and other data. The material was substantially disclosed to the interested persons and legal teams.
The coroner’s inquest opened on 2 October 2007, headed by Lord Justice Scott Baker. The opening statement was largely made up of evidence and findings in the criminal investigation report. On 7 April 2008, the jury came to the verdict that Diana and Fayed were unlawfully killed as a result of “gross negligence” of the driver Henri Paul and the paparazzi. Contributing factors cited included “the impairment of the judgment of the driver of the Mercedes [Henri Paul] through alcohol” and that none of those who died were wearing a seatbelt.