London, Dec. 14: Allegations that Prince Philip conspired with British intelligence to have Princess Diana murdered because the British royal family did not want the mother of the future king of England to marry Dodi Fayed, a Muslim, were dismissed in a report published today as “unfounded”.
Over nine years after the death of Diana in a car crash in a Paris tunnel, there was an extraordinary piece of theatre in London when Lord Stevens, the former head of Scotland Yard, released his 832-page report into the circumstances of her death.
The report was commissioned by the government because of the “extremely serious charges” levelled against the royal family. Among 400 people interviewed were the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and the heads of MI5 and MI6.
“There was no conspiracy to murder any of the occupants of that car,” said Stevens, who looked grave and yet frank.
His findings were rejected by Dodi’s father, Mohammed Al Fayed, who said he had been “betrayed” by Stevens: “How can I accept something really shocking' I know deep in my heart that I’m the only person who knows the truth.”
Stevens, in response, implied that Fayed was mentally unhinged by describing the Egyptian-born tycoon as “a genuinely grieving parent”.
Journalists from all over the world packed today’s news conference as Stevens insisted that Diana, then 36, was not pregnant and that she had no intention of marrying 42-year-old Dodi, as his father has always claimed.
“We have spoken to many of her family and closest friends and none of them have indicated to us that she was either about to or wished to get engaged,” he remarked. “Prince William has confirmed to me that his mother had not given him the slightest indication about such plans for the future.”
He confirmed, however, that Dodi had bought a ring for Diana and might have given it to her on the evening that the couple were killed, along with the French driver of their Mercedes, Henri Paul.
The Stevens report, which has taken three years to compile and cost £3.69 million, is being published in full on the Internet so that the world will get a chance to read what he has found by examining thousands of documents and 600 exhibits. Stevens’s team also reconstructed the crash, using the latest technology and getting data from “186million points”. The only survivor was Diana’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees, but no one in the car was wearing a seat belt when it crashed.
Stevens said he had “left no stone unturned” but acknowledged: “I have no doubt that speculation as to what happened that night will continue and that there are some matters, as in many other investigations, about which we may never find a definitive answer.”
Diana’s Mercedes did have a minor collision with a white Fiat Uno which has never been found, he agreed. He ruled out a “blinding flash” in the tunnel as the cause of the crash.
Stevens explained that there could not have been a conspiracy because the driver, Paul, who had exceeded the legal limit for drinking and driving, had gone off duty and had no fore-knowledge he could be summoned back at a late stage to take Diana and Dodi to the latter’s apartment.
Stevens spent last night with princes William and Harry, who were 15 and 12 when their mother died, explaining his report to them. It is understood they were very upset with the behaviour of paparazzi who had pursued their mother on that night she was killed. A source said: “They feel very strongly about it and it has upset them.”
Although Stevens’s conclusion was expected, he did make intriguing revelations. One was almost an admission that American intelligence had been monitoring Diana’s calls. Another was that he had been allowed “unprecedented access” to the records of British intelligence, including MI5 and MI6, and that if there had been a plot to murder Diana, some evidence would have been found.
There will now be a formal inquest into Diana’s death conducted by a coroner which will reach the same conclusion.