Diana verdict: Gross negligence not conspiracy to murder

Mohamed Al Fayed’s legal team yesterday (7 April) were considering their options after the jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing in relation to the deaths of Princess Diana and the Harrods owner’s son Dodi.

The jury held the pair were killed due to the “gross negligence” of driver Henri Paul and the paparazzi. Paul’s negligence was due to drink-driving, while the jury also added that Diana and Dodi not wearing seatbelts contributed to their deaths. The 11-member jury reached the decision by a 9-2 majority.

The couple were killed when Paul crashed a hired Mercedes under the Alma underpass in Paris in 1997.

Coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker said he hoped that the verdict would bring closure to this particular tragic incident and that the people who’ve died will be allowed to rest in peace.

“Mr Al Fayed said that he will accept the verdict of the jury. The verdict has been clear. They have said they are absolutely sure that there is no conspiracy in relation to this matter,” said the coroner.

Al Fayed said in a statement: “I’m not the only person who says they were murdered. Diana predicted that she would be murdered and how it would happen. So I am disappointed.

“For 10 years I have endured two police investigations. The French and the Scotland Yard inquiries were wrong. These inquests prove it. They said it was an accident and their findings are now dismissed.”

Outside of court, he added: “The most important thing is it is murder.”

Al Fayed’s barrister team was lead by Michael Mansfield QC of Tooks Chambers, with his Paris hotel The Ritz led by Ian Croxford QC of Wilberforce Chambers.

For the Government, the lead counsel to the coroner was Ian Burnett QC of 1 Temple Gardens and Richard Horwell QC of Cloth Fair Chambers led for the Metropolitan Police.