Published On: Sun, Aug 27th, 2017

Diana’s death crash driver given clean bill of health just 72 hours before tragedy

Henri Paul had been off-duty, as deputy head of security at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, on that fateful evening but was called back to drive and Dodi Fayed to their apartment. 

An inquest jury at the Royal Courts of Justice in 2008 ruled the couple were unlawfully killed. 

The ruling blamed the deadly crash on the “gross negligence” of driver Mr Paul and the paparazzi who had been hounding their car. 

It found alcohol had impaired Mr Paul’s judgement and that Diana and Dodi may have survived if they had worn seatbelts. 

Diana’s bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, who was wearing a seatbelt, was the only one who survived the crash on August 31 1997. 

Mr Paul’s doctor testified in the investigation that in the two years leading up to the driver’s death he had depressive episodes about the break-up of a long term relationship and had sometimes taken to drinking at home outside a social context.

But Mr Paul’s friend Claude Garrec has attempted to defend the chauffeur. 

He claims Mr Paul passed an aviation medical test 72 hours before the crash and has dismissed suggestions the chauffeur was an alcoholic or suffering from depression. 

Mr Garrec said: “If Henri was an alcoholic and depressive how was this signed by a doctor just three days before he died?

“There have been no answers even 20 years on.

“And one particularly strong memory for me was the message on a wreath at his funeral, ‘We are not fooled’.”

Mr Paul was a pilot for 20 years and had to pass strict medical tests annually, including blood and liver tests.

Mr Garrec said: “I flew with Henri in his plane dozens of times.

“Sometimes my wife and my daughter were with us, including at night and in foggy weather.

“Do you really believe that if I had any doubt about Henri’s mental health, or his lucidity, I would have taken that risk? Never!”

Mr Garrec said the few bottles of alcohol that were found in Mr Paul’s home were “normal quantities”. 

Princess Diana was killed on August 31 1997 as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris.

It comes as top QC Michael Mansfield calls for a fresh investigation into the fatal crash. 

Mr Mansfield QC, who represented Dodi’s dad Mohammed Al Fayed during the inquest into Princess Diana’s death, said there is good reason to suspect the Paris incident was not accidental. 

The lawyer is suspicious after police did not react more strongly to a note Princess Diana had written in which she claimed someone was plotting to kill her.

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