London, Dec. 10 (Reuters): A long-awaited British police report into Princess Diana’s death due this week could finally lay to rest conspiracy theories that she was murdered rather than that she died the victim of a tragic accident.
More than nine years after Diana and her lover Dodi Al-Fayed were killed in a high-speed car smash in Paris, a three-year inquiry headed by Britain’s former top police officer Sir John Stevens is expected to announce on Thursday it has ruled out foul play.
However, that is unlikely to quash theories that British spies or even her ex-husband, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, had plotted the accident because the couple’s relationship was embarrassing the royal household.
The top-level police investigation was ordered by former Royal Coroner Michael Burgess in January 2004 when he opened a British inquest into Diana’s death.
“I am aware that there is speculation that (her death was) not the result of a sad but relatively straightforward road traffic accident in Paris,” Burgess said at the time.
Stevens, who headed London’s police force, has spent almost three years investigating what happened, interviewing Charles for several hours as part of his inquiry which he said aims to draw a line under the issue.
In May, he said he had found new witnesses and gathered fresh forensic evidence, but security experts expect him to back official French findings that the deaths were an accident.
Diana, who was 36, and Al-Fayed died after their chauffeur-driven Mercedes limousine smashed into the wall of a road tunnel in the French capital in August 1997 after they sped away from the Ritz Hotel whilst being pursued by paparazzi on motorbikes.
A two-year inquiry by French authorities in 1999 ruled that Al-Fayed’s driver Henri Paul, who was also killed, was to blame because he was drunk and driving too fast.
But conspiracy theories still abound. They suggest that Diana was pregnant at the time and that she and Al-Fayed were planning to marry.
There have been claims Paul was dazzled by a blinding light while there has also been much speculation about a mysterious Fiat Uno car which Paul swerved to avoid before the crash.
French judges said the Mercedes had grazed the slow-moving white Uno, but the car was never traced despite a massive hunt.