Thursday, December 14, 2006

Diana report - crash was a "tragic accident"

The report into the accident which killed Lady Diana was released today. Sky News broadcast the findings LIVE. As they showed Lord Steven’s findings in one screen, a split screen showed a continuing operation in Suffolk where police are examining the bodies of a number of murdered prostitutes. The BBC News 24, which also broadcast the findings LIVE, devoted the entire screen to the Diana report. CNN also gave substantial LIVE coverage. France 24 and Al Jazeera did not cover the report findings LIVE, but France 24 did report on the report’s release on its website.
The report in itself has revealed nothing new. Allegations of a cover up and murder allegations were dismissed by the report. The primary cause of the crash was blamed on excessive speed and a result of the chauffeur Henri Paul not being in proper control of the vehicle. The report established that 1.7 g per litre of alcohol was in Henri Paul’s blood. This was three times the French drink-drive limit, twice the UK drink-drive limit.
The report which took three years to compile, and is over 800 pages in length, established that there was no conspiracy and that the crash was “merely a tragic accident.” The issues as to whether Diana had proposed to marry Dodi Fayed, or was pregnant, were both dismissed. There was evidence of a collision between the Mercedes and a white Fiat Uno but the report did not intimate this as being the cause of the accident. The car has never been found.
Mohammed Al Fayed, Dodi’s father, has said he would not accept the findings of the report. He continues to insist that Diana was killed by agents belonging to the British secret services. The report took up many of the issues surrounding the conspiracy theories. The Stevens’ report established such allegations were unfounded. “There will be a number of people who will not accept what we’re saying” Lord Stevens said, but he urged them to read the report in its entirety.
Speaking on BBC News 24, Martin Gregory who wrote “The Last Days of Diana” said he agreed with the findings. Dickie Arbiter, a former Royal Press Secretary, speaking on Sky News, echoed Steven’s request that those who were sceptical read the report in full. He said that Henri Paul was “well over the drink drive limit” and “should not have been driving that car”.
David Cohen, an author, told Sky News he was not satisfied. He posed the question as to whether Lord Stevens had dealt with a New Zealand expert’s evidence regards the blood testing of Henri Paul’s blood. He said Dr Sprott OBE had taken issue with methods employed in analysing samples of the blood of the chauffer []. Dr Jim Sprott is known for his outspoken views on the cause of cot death []. Cohen, who wrote ‘Diana: Death of a Goddess’, also took issue with the speed of the vehicle as it entered L’Alma tunnel. He pointed out that the French investigation had showed the car as travelling significantly higher than the Stevens’ report had established. This, he said, showed a lack of competence in the investigative procedure. The report will no doubt spawn a proliferation of yet more books about this iconic woman and her tragic demise. There are dozens of books surrounding the tragic events of the 31st August 1997 [The Age] and this new report will only fuel further literary enterprises. Unlike the US authorities who make such reports readily available though booksellers, the UK does not. If it were, it may too enter into the list of bestsellers. In the US both The 9/11 Commission Report and the recently released Iraq Study Group Report entered the best seller list. The 9/11 Commission report sold more than 1 million copies and was nominated for a National Book Award. It was published by W.W. Norton & Co. The Iraq Study Group Report is currently number 2 on the Barnes & Noble and websites [CNN]. The report into the death of Diana, otherwise known as the Operation Paget Report is available for free online via the Metropolitan Police website [PDF file]. Some media organisations did however provide the document via their respective websites, but many omitted a map of the Ritz hotel in Place Vendome, Paris.

Full report in PDF format - source: Sky / source: BBC]

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