No Murder, No Conspiracy, No Coverup: Di's Death an Accident

(Photo courtesy
(Photo courtesy

by Chris Francescani, ABC News Law & Justice Unit

Princess Diana was not pregnant or engaged to be married when she died in 1997 and there was no conspiracy to murder her or Ehmad "Dodi'' al Fayed, an exhaustive three-year British report has determined.

The report, released by British investigators today, concurred with a 1999 French investigation that found that the crash was caused by the intoxication of the car's driver, Henri Paul, and excessive speed.

"Our conclusion is that, on all the evidence available at this time, there was no conspiracy to murder any of the occupants of the car. This was a tragic accident," lead British investigator Lord John Stevens said today. "Three people tragically lost their lives in the accident and one was seriously injured. Many more, many more have suffered from the intense scrutiny and speculation and misinformed judgment in the years that have followed.''

Stevens said that he is resigned to the fact that speculation will continue to surround the cause of the crash.

"There are some matters about which we will never find definitive answers,'' he said.

Stevens added that he did not "believe there is any evidence that currently exists that can substantiate" the charge made by Fayed's father, Mohammed al Fayed, of "conspiracy to murder.''

Al Fayed has been tireless in insisting that his son and the princess were murdered because she was pregnant with Fayed's child, and that it would be an embarrassment to the British establishment if Diana gave birth to a Muslim baby.

Al Fayed has hired investigators who have raised intriguing but mostly explainable questions and theories about the crash. On Wednesday, the father again called the report's expected results "outrageous'' and said Stevens was being blackmailed by British intelligence.

"This is not the end of matters," Michael Cole, a spokesman for al Fayed, said in a press conference hours after the investigation results were released.

Al Fayed called the investigation "highly unsatisfactory" and said the probe was "ended prematurely."

"Mohammed al Fayed believes this is all part of a scheme to close down the inquiry and cover up the truth," Cole said.

In an earlier press conference today, Stevens expressed gratitude to al Fayed for sharing results of his private investigation with Stevens' team. But he declined to elaborate on his feelings about the Egyptian magnate's ongoing conspiracy charges.

Stevens said this morning that reports that a U.S. intelligence agency had been eavesdropping on Diana's phone conversations the night that she died were "taken as far as we could.''

"We've been in touch,'' Stevens said, with American intelligence agencies and "they inform us that there is nothing in their records ... that actually would assist or otherwise [with] this investigation.

On Tuesday, the U.S. National Security Agency said it hadn't targeted Diana's phones, but acknowledged that it had references to the princess in 39 classified documents.

Stevens said the British investigation undertook "groundbreaking'' three-dimensional accident reconstruction and that "data from 186 million points" at the scene had been taken to create a simulation of the accident "within an accuracy of one centimeter.''

A BBC poll of 1,000 British adults found that 31 percent believed the crash was not an accident while 43 percent believed it was.

In a dispassionate summary of the 800-page report against a bland blue background at a London press conference, Stevens knocked down one conspiracy after another.

Ring, but No Wedding Bells

Stevens said that the investigation determined that Fayed had bought a $450,000 ring for Diana, but had not presented it to her.

"Certainly a ring was bought...but we don't know exactly when Dodi was intending on giving Diana that ring,'' he said

Stevens, a former Metropolitan Police commissioner, said investigators had "spoken to many of her family and closest friends and none of them" ever heard her say anything about marriage to Fayed.

"Her last conversations with friends and confidantes were to the contrary,'' he said. "Prince William also confirmed to me that his mother had not given him the slightest indication of plans'' to marry Fayed.

"She was not engaged and she was not about to get engaged,'' he said. "We believe that she never saw that ring,'' he said. "I don't know whether Dodi was going to ask her to marry him that night.''

In September, Diana's personal butler, Paul Burrell, discounted the pregnancy and engagement rumors in an interview with ABC News, and said Diana was secretly seeing another man.

"Dodi al Fayed only knew the princess for 26 days,'' he told ABC News' Kate Snow.

Burrell said Diana's true love at the time of her death was a British heart surgeon named Hasnat Khan, with whom she had shared a tumultuous two-year relationship.

"He didn't want to go public,'' Burrell said.

Mystery Car Flashing Light

Stevens said the investigation confirmed that the mysterious white Fiat Uno that witnesses claimed to have seen speeding from the accident did not belong to photographer James Andanson, as investigators for Mohammed al Fayed have claimed.

"We are satisfied that James Andanson was at home with his wife" on the night of the crash "before flying to Corsica on assignment the following morning,'' Stevens said.

Andanson was found dead in a burnt out car in May 2000 in an apparent suicide. Mohammed al Fayed claimed he had been murdered. But, Stevens said, after speaking to Andandson's wife, friends and colleagues, the investigation confirmed the original reports that he did, in fact, kill himself.

The identity of the driver of the white Fiat Uno will likely never be answered, Stevens said. French investigation "couldn't locate the car and at this time it's very unlikely we would do so.''

Stevens suggested the possibility that the driver of the car may have been a useful witness, but may be reluctant to come forward out of fear of having violated France's "Good Samaritan" law. The law requires witnesses of an accident to stop and attempt to assist the victim.

Stevens went on to dismiss claims that Andanson was a secret agent, saying that "there is no evidence that James Andanson was an agent for any security agency.''

Addressing what some witnesses described as a "flashing light'' right before the accident, Stevens said, "We are confident that any theories concerning flashing lights ...can be discarded as a cause for that crash.''

Some had theorized that the driver, Henri Paul, was blinded by a flash of light that sent the car careening into the pillar.

Unexpected Change of Plans and Embalming Speculation Addressed

Stevens also addressed the theory that Paul was part of a plot to kill the princess and Fayed. Stevens said that theory was disproven by the fact that the princess and Fayed changed their plans unexpectedly late in the evening of the crash.

"At 7 p.m. that evening, Dodi al Fayed and the Princess of Wales left the Ritz Hotel to go to Dodi al Fayed's apartment," he said. "They had no intentions of returning to the Ritz Hotel that night.''

Stevens said that the couple had planned to dine that night at a well-known Paris restaurant and were on their way there, when, "because of the attention of the paparazzi during the journey, Dodi al Fayed instructed his chauffeur to drive instead to the Ritz Hotel.''

At this point, Paul was unexpectedly called back to the hotel to drive the couple for the remainder of evening.

"Until he was telephoned at 10 p.m. by the Ritz Hotel night duty security officer, he cannot have known that he would be returning to the Ritz Hotel, nor did anyone else,'' Stevens said.

Much has also been made about the fact that the princess was embalmed soon after her death, which made a proper autopsy impossible.

Stevens said Diana was embalmed "for presentation reasons'' and that the decision was made by the embalmer at the time.

Undying Diana Infatuation

The report comes amid a minor media renaissance surrounding Princess Diana and the ever-embattled royal family.

"The Queen,'' a Hollywood movie about the royals' muted, baffled response to Princess Diana's death has generated Oscar buzz. On Tuesday, Diana's sons, Prince William and Prince Henry, announced plans to hold a massive concert this summer at Wembley Stadium to commemorate what would have been their mother's 46th birthday.

Also, a public inquest will be held in England next month to determine the cause of Diana's death.

And Burrell resurfaced this fall to resume his years-long waltz with the press with a new book about Diana's previously unreported private thoughts, feelings and letters. The former butler's 2002 revelation of a note that Diana wrote to him in 1996 sparked the latest investigation.

"My husband is planning an 'accident' in my car, brake failure and serious head injury to make clear the path for him to marry,''' the note said.

Stevens said that the note was investigated and that while there seems to have been "some premonition'' on the part of the princess, he dismissed the notion that there was any sort of plot to kill her.

"It has been part and parcel of what we've considered,'' he said, wearily.

Additional reporting by ABC News' Max Sandgrund.

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