2 October 2007 - Morning session
1 Tuesday 2nd October 2007
[Transcript of Jury swearing in omitted to protect the confidence of the Jury]
6 (Jury present)
7 LORD JUSTICE SCOTT BAKER: My opening remarks and
8 subsequently the evidence, when we get to it, will be
9 published on the court website within a very short space
10 of time after each sitting of the court. It may be
11 helpful for everybody to know that I intend to break off
12 during the opening, after about an hour on each
13 occasion, because I think it is very difficult for
14 anybody to listen to an opening for more than an hour at
15 a time and it is certainly difficult for me not to have
16 a break.
17 Opening remarks of LORD JUSTICE SCOTT BAKER
18 LORD JUSTICE SCOTT BAKER: Members of the jury, in the
19 early hours of Sunday 31st August, 1997, a Mercedes
20 motor car, in which Diana, Princess of Wales was
21 a passenger, crashed into a pillar in the central
22 reservation of the Alma Underpass in Paris. Most, if
23 not all of you, will remember where you were when you
24 heard about the subsequent death of the Princess of
1 None of you would, for a moment, have thought that
2 over ten years later you might be on a jury
3 investigating the events relating to that tragic August
4 night. But you are, and the task you have is an
5 important one and it is yours and yours alone. No one
6 can tell you what to decide, although I shall do what
7 I can to assist you, in particular by summing up
8 the evidence and directing you on the law at the end of
9 the hearing.
10 In a nutshell, what happened was this: about
11 20 minutes past midnight, on Sunday 31st August 1997,
12 a Mercedes driven by Henri Paul left the rear entrance
13 of the Ritz Hotel Paris with Diana, Princess of Wales
14 and Dodi Al Fayed in the rear passenger seats.
15 A bodyguard employed by the Al Fayed family,
16 Trevor Rees (or Rees-Jones as he was known at the time),
17 was in the front passenger seat. The vehicle left from
18 the rear of the Ritz as part of a plan to throw off
19 the paparazzi or photo-journalists, many of whom were
20 waiting outside the front entrance, expecting them to
21 leave from there.
22 The intention was to go to Dodi Al Fayed's flat.
23 The journey ended when the vehicle struck
24 the 13th pillar of the westbound carriageway of the
25 Alma Underpass, travelling at about 60 to 65 miles per
1 hour, which is about twice the speed limit for the road.
2 It was, of course, a left-hand drive vehicle, with
3 the driver in the left-hand seat, rather than, as in
4 this country, the right-hand seat.
5 Two people died at the scene: Dodi Al Fayed and
6 the driver, Henri Paul. The Princess of Wales was very
7 seriously injured. Although medical staff described
8 strenuous efforts to save her, she died in hospital
9 later that night. Trevor Rees, the bodyguard, suffered
10 grievous injuries, but lived and has made a very
11 substantial recovery. However, he says that he has
12 little memory of events.
13 Your duty is to inquire into the deaths of two of
14 the people who died: Diana, Princess of Wales and
15 Emad El-Din Mohamed Abdel Moneim Fayed. I shall refer
16 to them throughout, I hope without disrespect, as
17 "Diana" and "Dodi".
18 You have to decide four important, but limited
19 factual questions: who the deceased were, when they came
20 by their deaths, where they came by their deaths and how
21 they came by their deaths. The first three questions
22 are unlikely to give rise to any difficulty. The fourth
23 is a rather wider question and is directed towards
24 the means by which they died. The answer to that
25 question is commonly known as the "verdict" in an
2 I shall give you detailed directions about how to
3 approach this question after the evidence has been heard
4 and when you have to give your verdict in respect of
5 each of Diana and Dodi. Because of the unique nature of
6 this case, we shall explore that question a good deal
7 more widely than would ordinarily be the case. We shall
8 investigate matters, some of which may very well turn
9 out to be irrelevant to the cause of the deaths because
10 one of the purposes of an inquest is to allay suspicion
11 and rumour.
12 However, at the end of these inquests, you will be
13 required to complete a formal legal document, called an
14 "inquisition", which will contain your answers to
15 the four questions I have just set out. The law says
16 that neither a coroner nor a jury can express an opinion
17 on any other matter. I shall give you detailed
18 directions on how to complete that document when
19 the time comes.
20 In the course of this opening address to you,
21 I shall draw your attention to those issues that it
22 seems to me are likely to arise. In doing so, I am not
23 seeking in any way to limit those matters on which it
24 may be necessary to hear evidence. As the hearing
25 progresses, it is possible that some issues may fall
1 away, but new issues may arise and new lines of inquiry
2 may become necessary. If they are relevant, they will
3 be explored.
4 Members of the jury, I should make clear that it is
5 not the function of an inquest to attribute blame or
6 apportion guilt. The law lays down that no verdict may
7 be framed in such a way as to appear to determine any
8 question of criminal liability of any particular person
9 or any question of civil liability. This rule is based
10 on considerations of fairness. An inquest is not
11 subject to all the same procedural rules and safeguards
12 as a criminal or civil trial.
13 Why, you may ask, are we doing this over ten years
14 after the event, a delay which will inevitably make
15 the investigation more difficult, because memories fade,
16 possible witnesses have died or disappeared and,
17 uniquely to this case, quite literally millions of words
18 have been written by a great many people expressing
19 views on what did or did not happen. This is a subject
20 upon which most members of the British public and many
21 overseas appear to have a view, often based on no
22 evidence at all, or, at best, on only part of the
24 Much has been written or broadcast, often showing
25 a disregard for the facts. But your decision, when you
1 have heard all the evidence, is the view that matters.
2 You may first wonder why there is an inquest into these
3 deaths when the crash occurred in France and a lengthy
4 investigation into the circumstances and causes was made
5 by the judicial authorities in France. That results
6 from the way in which coroners in England and Wales
7 become involved in the investigation of deaths.
8 For centuries, the duty on a coroner to investigate
9 a death has arisen when there is a body within his
10 district and where there is reason to suppose that
11 the death was unnatural. The bodies of both Diana and
12 Dodi were returned to London and so became the concern
13 of coroners here. Of course, the body of Henri Paul
14 remained in France and his death is not the subject of
15 an English inquest.
16 Any death which arises from a car crash must,
17 according to the law, be investigated by a coroner at an
18 inquest because it is unnatural. The fact that the
19 death occurred abroad and that it has been investigated
20 abroad makes no difference. And so it is that when
21 deaths occur overseas but a body is repatriated to
22 England and Wales, there will always be an inquest if
23 the death was unnatural.
24 The cause of the delay between the crash and these
25 inquests is primarily twofold. The French authorities
1 immediately carried out an investigation into the crash,
2 but of course they did so within their own legal and
3 investigative system. An official of the Paris Public
4 Prosecutor's Department went to the scene of the crash
5 to take control of the initial investigation. This is
6 the procedure which is followed in France. It is
7 different from this country.
8 She tasked the Brigade Criminelle section of
9 the Paris police with the initial investigation. Seven
10 paparazzi present at the scene were arrested.
11 The Public Prosecutor's Department asked, on Tuesday
12 2nd September 1997, for these paparazzi, or
13 photo-journalists, to be investigated for failure to
14 render assistance to persons in danger (an offence in
15 France but not here) and for unnamed persons to be
16 investigated for involuntary manslaughter and injury.
17 "Unnamed persons" is a term used in France when an
18 investigation is opened with no specific named subject.
19 The expression appears to have been used to refer to
20 the possibility that paparazzi may have caused the
21 driver's loss of control. On 4th September 1997,
22 another three paparazzi reported to the
23 Brigade Criminelle. They were investigated for the same
25 Following the Public Prosecutor's request for an
1 investigation, an examining magistrate,
2 Judge Herve Stephan, was appointed to the case.
3 A second examining magistrate was later appointed to
4 assist. Under the criminal justice system in France,
5 the presiding magistrate is responsible for
6 the direction of the investigation and his authority is
7 needed for any action to be taken. The French system is
8 inquisitorial and differs from an adversarial system of
9 criminal justice like ours in this country, where
10 the police are, in the main, responsible for directing
11 and carrying out a criminal investigation.
12 Judge Stephan concluded that there was insufficient
13 evidence against the paparazzi photographers in respect
14 of the offences then being investigated. He further
15 concluded that there was insufficient evidence against
16 any person for the offences of involuntary manslaughter,
17 injury causing a total incapacity for work in excess of
18 three months or for endangering the life of another.
19 The question about incapacity for work arose because
20 the other passenger in the Mercedes, Trevor Rees, the
21 bodyguard employed by the Al Fayed family, was very
22 seriously injured in the crash. Finally, he concluded
23 that no other offences under French criminal law had
24 been committed. He circulated his conclusions in
25 a notice of dismissal dated 3rd September 1999.
1 The judicial investigation in France had involved
2 the interviewing of many witnesses and detailed
3 investigation of many issues that would be relevant in
4 English inquests. In the ordinary course, when an
5 inquest is held in England into a foreign death, the
6 foreign investigation provides much of the evidence.
7 The whole process is not redone, not least because
8 the Coroner has no authority in the foreign country.
9 But the fruits of the French investigation could not be
10 used here while the proceedings in France were still
12 The process in France did not, however, end in
13 September 1999. Mr Al Fayed, Dodi's father, was
14 dissatisfied with the outcome of the French
15 investigation and the conclusions reached by
16 Judge Stephan. He exercised his right to appeal various
17 of those conclusions and it was some years before that
18 appeal process was completed.
19 In July 2003, solicitors for Mohamed Al Fayed wrote
20 to my predecessor, as coroner, pointing out that the
21 criminal proceedings presided over by Judge Stephan in
22 France had finally concluded and urged him to open the
23 inquests and ensure that in respect of Dodi Al Fayed
24 "there is a proper investigation into his death".
25 The letter contained details of the allegations that
1 Mohamed Al Fayed has maintained throughout, that
2 the crash was not an accident but murder in furtherance
3 of a conspiracy by "the Establishment", in particular
4 His Royal Highness Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh,
5 who used "the Security Services" to carry it out.
6 The French authorities' views were sought and they
7 declined to re-open their investigation into the
8 circumstances of the crash in the light of those
10 On 6th January 2004, my predecessor, Mr Burgess,
11 opened the inquests and on 15th January 2004, the then
12 commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Lord Stevens,
13 agreed to conduct an inquiry to assess whether there was
14 any credible evidence to support the assertion that the
15 deaths of Diana and Dodi were caused other than as
16 a result of a tragic road accident.
17 Great assistance was received from the French
18 authorities who made the French case file or dossier
19 available. But let me give you this word of warning:
20 you will hear from time to time references to the French
21 judge's dossier. It contains numerous statements, plans
22 and reports, including those of experts. Some of the
23 contemporaneous material will be helpful, not least in
24 refreshing witnesses' memories, but this is not
25 a retrial of the French investigation.
1 There are also differences between the way fatal car
2 crashes are investigated in France and in this country.
3 For example, in the United Kingdom, the scene of the
4 collision is closed until examination of the scene is
5 complete. In France, the scene is re-opened to the
6 public once the police have completed their initial
7 examination, but may be closed for further inquiries by
8 an expert at a later date if the judge so orders.
9 So, for example, photographs of the scene not long
10 after the crash show vehicles driving past the wreckage.
11 Bear in mind too that technology has moved on over
12 the last ten years and, in a number of respects, is more
13 sophisticated now than it was in 1997.
14 You make your decisions on the evidence you hear in
15 this court in these inquests. Evidence, of course, is
16 not the same as speculation or mere assertion. Because
17 serious allegations of criminal conduct were being made
18 which I shall attempt to outline in due course, it was
19 important that they should be fully investigated by
20 the police.
21 The inquiry conducted by the Metropolitan Police was
22 entitled "Operation Paget". Only when that inquiry was
23 concluded, Lord Stevens and the Metropolitan Police
24 having found that there was no evidence to support
25 the allegations, was it appropriate to proceed with
1 the inquests. He concluded his inquiry in
2 December 2006, producing a report which has been called
3 the "Stevens Report" or the "Paget Report".
4 The conclusions of the French Inquiry and the
5 Paget Report are neither here nor there if you take
6 a different view. The facts and what you make of the
7 evidence that you hear are for you and you alone.
8 I repeat: no one can tell you what to decide.
9 Members of the jury, the task that you undertake is
10 an important one. It does not need me to tell you that.
11 I am sure the families of the three people who died
12 would wish to achieve closure to this tragedy following
13 the most vigorous investigation that we can conduct into
14 the circumstances.
15 You will be in the public eye as no inquest jury has
16 ever been before. We all will be. But you must not let
17 that deter you from approaching the facts
18 dispassionately, disregarding anything you hear or have
19 heard outside this courtroom.
20 There is no reason why the task should overawe you.
21 Juries up and down the country have to decide difficult
22 questions of fact literally every week. I have
23 mentioned already that you will consider the evidence
24 that you hear during these inquests. It is of vital
25 importance that you do not allow yourselves, either
1 deliberately or inadvertently, to be influenced by
2 material or views that come from outside the courtroom.
3 The crash has been the subject of so much
4 speculation over the last ten years that it would be
5 unrealistic to suppose that any of you had not seen or
6 read broadcasts, books or newspaper reports which have
7 sought to explain the circumstances of the crash.
8 The findings of Lord Stevens' report were, for
9 example, widely published at the end of last year.
10 Books on the subject fill shelves in public libraries.
11 Television programmes have abounded and newspapers have
12 frequently carried reports and articles, some almost to
13 the point of obsession. But you must put anything you
14 may have read or picked up out of your mind and
15 concentrate on the evidence that will be given here.
16 You must, under no circumstances, do any private
17 research on any matter relevant to the inquests now that
18 you are part of the jury. So, for example, you must not
19 read any books, surf the net or look out old television
20 programmes which deal with the crash and its causes.
21 I am sure you will understand the importance of
22 this. If you read or see anything relevant to the
23 issues you are considering otherwise than in the inquest
24 proceedings, you will not be making your judgments on
25 the evidence, but on extraneous material which will not
1 have been given on oath or affirmation and which no one
2 will have had the opportunity to test, challenge or
4 Similarly, when you go home, your family and friends
5 will be agog to know what you have to say about
6 the case, but you must try to avoid getting drawn into
7 discussions with them when they start giving you the
8 benefit of their views, for they will not have heard
9 the evidence.
10 Juries are always given this advice, but it will be
11 particularly difficult for you because of the extent of
12 the likely media coverage. Juries are also routinely
13 advised not to read newspaper reports or look at
14 television news reports about the case.
15 I realise that may prove almost impossible over
16 the period this case is likely to last, but let me
17 explain the reason. It is this: editors have
18 constraints with time and space. Fair and accurate
19 reports of the proceedings in court are a cornerstone of
20 a democratic society, but only some of the day's
21 proceedings can be reported; no doubt that part that
22 appears to the editor to be most newsworthy.
23 Accordingly, if you do see reports on television or in
24 the newspapers, try to put them out of your mind, just
25 like everything else you may have heard, seen or read
1 about the case outside these four walls.
2 One further word: these inquests have a website on
3 which each day's proceedings before you will be fully
4 and accurately recorded. It is inadvisable for you to
5 go looking up the website on your own because it is very
6 easy to pick up things out of context. If you have
7 a query about the evidence that has been given, raise it
8 in court and I shall do my best to answer it for you.
9 I have already mentioned what an inquest is intended
10 to establish. Let me make one thing clear at
11 the outset: this is an investigation and not a criminal
12 trial. Juries are mostly called on to try criminal
13 cases. The person charged with a serious criminal
14 offence is tried by a jury whose job it is to decide
15 whether he is guilty or not guilty of the offence with
16 which he is charged. Juries in inquests are much less
17 common. Usually the Coroner sits alone. But sometimes,
18 where the death raises particular questions or there are
19 sensitive or high profile issues, it is better that the
20 critical factual decisions should be taken by a number
21 of members of the public, chosen at random, rather than
22 a professional coroner sitting alone and, accordingly,
23 a jury is empanelled.
24 Nobody here is charged with any criminal offence and
25 the procedure at an inquest is entirely different from
1 that at a criminal trial. Inquests are inquiries to
2 enable the public to know why somebody has died and
3 perhaps to learn lessons for the future. The job of
4 a coroner is to ensure that the relevant facts are fully
5 and fearlessly investigated, especially if there is any
6 question of official wrongdoing.
7 Equally, one of the central functions of an inquest
8 is to allay public concerns and dispel groundless
9 suspicion and speculation if, in truth, there is nothing
10 to it. A criminal trial is an adversarial process. The
11 prosecution makes an allegation that the defendant has
12 committed a particular offence or offences and sets out
13 to prove it; the defendant says he has not committed
14 the offence or offences and sets out to show why not.
15 An inquest is an inquiry or inquisition where the
16 court is trying to find out what happened. There is no
17 prosecution, no defence, just a search for the truth.
18 I have already indicated that your function is to answer
19 four questions: who the deceased were and where, when
20 and how they came by their deaths. Accordingly, there
21 is no prosecutor and no defendant in the proceedings.
22 Instead, the law provides that those who fall within
23 the description of an "interested person" may
24 participate in the proceedings and question witnesses.
25 That brings me to introduce the various individuals in
2 I have a team of three barristers who assist me.
3 They are called "counsel to the inquests". They are
4 Mr Ian Burnett QC, Mr Nicholas Hilliard and
5 Mr Jonathan Hough. I shall explain their function in
6 more detail in a moment, but between them they will
7 examine all the witnesses by asking them questions first
8 on my behalf.
9 Then we have Mr Michael Mansfield QC, Henrietta Hill
10 and Alison McDonald for Mr Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi's
11 father; Mr Ian Croxford QC and Mr Tom de la Mare, who
12 I do not think is here at the moment, for the Ritz Hotel
13 Paris; and Mr Richard Keen QC and Mr Robert Weekes for
14 the family of Henri Paul., the driver of the Mercedes.
15 These three interested persons, Mohamed Al Fayed,
16 the Ritz Hotel Paris, which the Al Fayed family owns,
17 and Henri Paul's family -- Henri Paul was employed by
18 the Ritz -- have, to an extent, similar interests.
19 Their counsel have very sensibly agreed to divide up the
20 work between them so it will not be necessary to ask
21 repetitive questions on the same subject.
22 Mr Edmund Lawson QC, Mr Richard Horwell, who I do
23 not think is here today, and Mr Duncan Macleod appear
24 for the Metropolitan Police Service; Mr Robin Tam
25 Queen's Counsel, who I think is not here today, and
1 Mr Jeremy Johnson appear for the Secret
2 Intelligence Service and the Foreign Office.
3 The Secret Intelligence Service and Foreign and
4 Commonwealth Office are not interested persons, but are
5 represented to deal with questions that touch on their
6 material and witnesses.
7 Other interested persons are either present or
8 represented by solicitors but will probably not take any
9 active part in the proceedings. These include
10 Princes William and Harry, represented by their private
11 secretary, Mr Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, and
12 Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Diana's sister, who, if not
13 present at the moment, is frequently present in person
14 and who represents her estate and the Spencer family.
15 Finally, there is Trevor Rees, the fourth occupant
16 of the Mercedes who was seriously injured but has
17 survived. He is not, so far as I am aware, present, nor
18 is he represented. He is, however, a properly
19 interested person and I expect him to give evidence in
20 due course.
21 From time to time other lawyers may appear during
22 the inquest and, if they do, I shall introduce them to
23 you. The distribution of lawyers again emphasises the
24 difference between an inquest and criminal proceedings.
25 In any significant trial, one would expect, save in
1 very rare circumstances, for everyone to be represented
2 through lawyers, but it is very common for interested
3 persons in inquests to represent themselves or not to be
4 present at all.
5 Members of the jury, there is a risk that a lack of
6 balance may become apparent if only one point of view is
7 being vigorously pursued. That is something you will
8 always wish to bear in mind and both I and counsel to
9 the inquests will try to ensure that all points which
10 should be explored are explored.
11 I should explain why the Metropolitan Police Service
12 are represented as interested persons. They conducted
13 the investigation in the inquiry headed by Lord Stevens
14 into the criminal allegations made by Mr Al Fayed and
15 it is apparent that some of their work and conclusions
16 will be criticised. But these inquests are not a review
17 of the Operation Paget inquiry any more than the
18 conclusions of Operation Paget are relevant, unless you
19 happen to agree with them.
20 Now, the procedure we shall follow is this: as the
21 Coroner who is charged with making the inquiry, I call
22 all the witnesses but I have the assistance of the three
23 barristers, Mr Burnett, Mr Hilliard and Mr Hough, one or
24 other of whom will examine each witness when he or she
25 is called to give evidence.
1 I shall work closely with the three of them and they
2 will be examining the witnesses on my behalf. I hold
3 the ultimate responsibility, and if I think some
4 question should not have been asked or should have been
5 asked that was not, then I shall say so and take
6 appropriate steps. As counsel acting on behalf of the
7 inquests, they do not represent any individual, they
8 have no axe to grind, they are independent of all the
9 interested persons and impartial. Their purpose is to
10 serve the interests of justice and to expose all
11 relevant matters with the witnesses.
12 I should like to emphasise the following about their
13 position: it is because of the exceptional nature and
14 complexity of these inquests that it has been necessary
15 for me to instruct counsel to assist me in discharging
16 certain of my functions as coroner. This is a course
17 that has been followed in other long and complex
18 inquests. I decide which witnesses should be called and
19 I call each witness. I direct counsel to the inquest to
20 perform the examination of each witness such as may be
21 necessary on my behalf, but all such examination is
22 conducted under my control.
23 In the course of directing my counsel, I am likely
24 to discuss with them the nature of the questioning that
25 I consider appropriate in respect of the witness and
1 that discussion will obviously take place out of court.
2 I retain at all times the power to ask questions of all
3 witnesses myself and will no doubt do so from time to
5 Unless some firm restraint is exercised by everyone,
6 these inquests could last for a very long time. In that
7 regard, I am glad to say that I have the agreement of
8 all counsel and interested persons that the maximum time
9 the inquests can last, in fairness to everyone, not
10 least yourselves, is six months.
11 The timetable is being planned with that in mind.
12 That said, many issues have been identified that will
13 need to be explored and they will be explored. But
14 another word of warning: we all need to keep our eye on
15 the ball. You do not have to unravel every issue that
16 emerges in the evidence to solve every subplot. No jury
17 is ever asked to do that and it would be a quite
18 impossible task. You need to keep in mind the overall
19 picture and look at how the whole story fits together in
20 approaching the central question of how Diana and Dodi
21 came by their deaths.
22 The interested persons, whether represented or not,
23 are entitled to ask questions of witnesses that
24 I consider relevant and proper. Coroners are frequently
25 reminded by the higher courts to ensure that inquests
1 remain inquisitorial and do not become adversarial.
2 That is something which I am sure all those involved in
3 the inquests will bear in mind when framing the content
4 of their questions and also their tone.
5 The approach in the criminal courts is not
6 appropriate here. A report in a newspaper last week
7 stated that lawyers for both sides would be "slugging it
8 out". That is a complete misconception. There are not
9 two sides. There are not any sides at all. This is an
10 inquiry. Additionally, I will be careful to ensure that
11 witnesses are not asked the same question over and over
12 again by different people.
13 The Coroners' Rules lay down that interested persons
14 cannot make speeches to you on the facts of the case.
15 It will be for you to hear the evidence and form your
16 own views on it, with the assistance of legal directions
17 and a summing up, which I shall give at the very end of
18 the inquests.
19 It may help you to have some idea of the way
20 we intend to proceed. First of all, later today, or
21 I think, more likely, in the course of tomorrow, I shall
22 conclude this opening to you. During it, I shall
23 endeavour to set out the outline of the story and to
24 help you to identify the issues that are likely to
25 unfold as the witnesses give their evidence.
1 There is a lot of material to cover, but rest
2 assured that it will all become very familiar as the
3 proceedings develop. You do not have to remember or
4 grasp all the details the first time you hear them.
5 Tomorrow and Thursday we shall hear some uncontroversial
6 background evidence that sets the scene. A number of
7 those involved in these proceedings have become
8 acquainted with the background material over the last
9 few months. There are some here who have been involved
10 for years.
11 I am very conscious that you come to this entirely
12 fresh and I have told you to disregard anything you
13 thought you knew about this crash and its circumstances.
14 That is why I am giving a sketch of the issues at this
15 stage. It is also why I have arranged for some
16 background evidence to be given at the beginning of
17 the inquests. It will comprise a short statement
18 summarising the movements of Diana and Dodi in the few
19 weeks before their deaths. That will contain nothing
20 that is not agreed by all the interested persons.
21 I will also show you two short films which will help you
22 become familiar with the scene.
23 The first will be a film taken from a car driving
24 the route of the Mercedes to the crash scene.
25 The second will be a film which an Australian tourist
1 happened to take on the night. It includes footage of
2 some events outside the Ritz Hotel and will give you
3 some idea of what the atmosphere was like.
4 We shall then play a compilation of CCTV shots,
5 which will let you see what happened at and near
6 the Ritz Hotel on the evening in question. As the
7 inquest progresses, you will be shown more CCTV footage.
8 It is of importance because, you will not be surprised
9 to hear, even shortly after the events in question,
10 the recollection of some witnesses was shown to be
11 inaccurate by reference to incontrovertible video
13 I shall also arrange a demonstration of a technical
14 aid known as "the blank canvas" which may be shown in
15 the course of the inquests to show the area around
16 the Alma Tunnel.
17 I do not propose to take evidence on Friday. Then,
18 on Monday, we are going to Paris where you will visit
19 the scene and look at a number of places that will
20 figure in the evidence including the Alma Tunnel. On
21 Monday night, after dark, you will be driven the last
22 journey of the Mercedes and onwards from the scene to
23 the hospital where Diana was taken. On the Tuesday, you
24 will have a closer look at various aspects of the
25 Ritz Hotel and at other relevant places. Later on
1 Tuesday you will be flown back to London.
2 The visit to Paris forms part of the inquest
3 proceedings. What you see forms part of the evidence.
4 It will help you enormously in understanding evidence
5 that you will subsequently hear.
6 On the following morning, the Wednesday, we shall
7 begin hearing evidence by videolink from Paris. Most of
8 the eye witnesses who saw some part of the journey,
9 the collision and its immediate aftermath are French.
10 Rather than come to England to give evidence here, live
11 before you, they will go to the Court of Appeal in Paris
12 where they will give evidence by videolink. We are
13 extremely grateful to the French authorities for their
14 considerable help in making this possible. Their
15 evidence is, however, just as much evidence in the case
16 as if you heard them here in person. This is likely to
17 be quite a slow process because the evidence will have
18 to be translated by an interpreter from French into
20 Because it is over ten years since the event, it
21 will not surprise you that many of the witnesses, for
22 one reason or another, are no longer available to give
23 evidence. It has been a big problem tracing people.
24 Some evidence will therefore be read to you. You will
25 discover that some witnesses have made more than one
1 statement over the years. The evidence of others is
2 augmented by answers given to the French judge and some
3 also by questions asked more recently by the French
5 You will need to be careful about the weight that
6 you give to such evidence that is read to you if it is
7 controversial, because it cannot be tested before you in
8 cross-examination. Other evidence may be read to you
9 because its contents are uncontroversial and agreed by
10 all the interested persons.
11 As I have already mentioned, whilst hearing evidence
12 by videolink, we shall sit from 9.30 in the morning in
13 order to accommodate the fact that French time is one
14 hour ahead of us. Also, you will normally not be
15 required on Fridays. My current plan is not to hear
16 evidence on Fridays unless it becomes unavoidable.
17 In the course of any long case matters of law arise
18 and have to be dealt with in the absence of the jury.
19 My plan is to deal with those on Fridays and, in that
20 way, I hope to avoid interrupting the flow of the
21 evidence as much as possible.
22 I shall review arrangements as we proceed and I am
23 anxious to do the best I can to cause you as little
24 inconvenience as possible, but you would be assisted by
25 knowing that if, for example, you need to make a medical
1 or other personal appointment, you should be able to do
2 so for a Friday without it interrupting the inquest
4 When a witness gives evidence, he will first be
5 questioned by one of my team. Then the interested
6 persons have an opportunity to ask questions. Finally,
7 if any points need to be cleared up, any further
8 questions can be asked by my counsel. If a matter is
9 not raised but you think it important, you may also ask
10 any questions of the witnesses. But this should only
11 rarely be appropriate as I would expect the skillful
12 array of advocates that are here between them to have
13 asked any relevant questions by the time the witness
14 finishes his or her evidence. If there is a question
15 you wish to ask, please let me know in a note.
16 I hope everyone will remember that no one is on
17 trial in this court and that this is an inquiry to
18 establish what happened and why and not to attribute
19 blame. In the many words that have been written and
20 spoken about this tragedy, the impact on the families of
21 those who died has often been overlooked completely or
22 given scant regard. Whilst the law must take its
23 course, those who died and their relatives are entitled
24 to respect and consideration whatever their position.
25 I expect these inquests to be relucted and reported by
1 everyone with this in mind.
2 I am now going to set out the background facts and
3 the questions which may arise in these inquests. At
4 some points I shall refer to the evidence of particular
5 witnesses based on the statements they have given in the
6 past. It is impossible to avoid doing so if you are to
7 understand the issues. However, you should bear in mind
8 two points: first, what follows is an outline only and
9 the evidence you hear will be much more detailed;
10 secondly, it is possible that some witnesses may in due
11 course give evidence which differs from what they have
12 previously said. You must base your conclusions on the
13 evidence you hear.
14 I think that is a convenient point, members of the
15 jury, to break off for long enough for you to go to your
16 retiring room briefly. We will adjourn for what I hope
17 will be ten minutes and not significantly longer than
18 that. I am not quite certain how long it will take you
19 to get up and down to your room and have a break, but we
20 will resume again, I hope, in ten minutes' time.
21 (11.58 am)
22 (A short break)
23 (12.12 pm)
24 (Jury present)
25 LORD JUSTICE SCOTT BAKER: Members of the jury,
1 the background: it may help you to have a chronology
2 which has been prepared. This simply sets out the bare
3 details in chronological order and you may find it is
4 helpful to use it as a peg to hang your information on
5 as you get it. I am not asking you to look at it all
6 the time, but here it is. (Handed).
7 The chronology, please, not the bundle;
8 the chronology. That comes later.
9 Members of the jury, on 11th July 1997, Diana,
10 together with her two sons, Princes William and Harry,
11 then aged 15 and 12, began a holiday in Saint Tropez in
12 the South of France. They were the guests of
13 Mohamed Al Fayed. Diana's marriage to the Prince of
14 Wales had ended in divorce in August of the previous
16 In 1994, at her request, she had ceased to have
17 official special protection. She was anxious to have
18 less intrusion into her private life. Thereafter she
19 was provided with special protection only if she was on
20 an official visit that warranted such security or she
21 was accompanied by some other member of the
22 Royal Family, eg her sons, who required protection in
23 their own right.
24 Diana was keen to spend time with her sons in
25 a secure environment. Mohamed Al Fayed, whom she had
1 known for a number of years, had his own security team
2 and she accepted his invitation to spend a holiday with
3 him. Personal protection officers from New Scotland
4 Yard accompanied her because the Princes were with her.
5 They worked with Mohamed Al Fayed's own security team.
6 On the evening of Monday 14th July 1997, Dodi joined
7 the holiday. He had recently been in Los Angeles and
8 then travelled to Paris with Kelly Fisher, his
9 girlfriend. They apparently watched the Bastille Day
10 celebrations in Paris that day before Dodi travelled to
11 join the party at the villa in Saint Tropez.
12 Kelly Fisher followed a couple of days later and stayed
13 on a boat called the Cujo, which belonged to the
14 Al Fayed family.
15 Diana told friends she enjoyed the holiday. Dodi
16 and Diana appeared to get on well together and their
17 friendship flourished. Much has been made over
18 the years of an observation of Diana to journalists on
19 14th July 1997 that "you're going to get a big surprise,
20 you'll see, you're going to get a big surprise with
21 the next thing I do". Perhaps we shall never know what
22 Diana had in mind. But you will note, members of the
23 jury, that the remark was made before Dodi had even
24 joined the party in Saint Tropez. There is no doubt
25 that Diana knew members of the Al Fayed family, but I am
1 unaware of any suggestion that she and Dodi were close
2 before this holiday.
3 Similarly, there is a famous photograph of Diana in
4 a leopard-print swimsuit taken that same day which some
5 observers have suggested shows that Diana was pregnant.
6 Here is a copy of the photograph which I think is now
7 being shown on the screens [photo produced - Sunday People 15-02-1998].
8 The question of whether Diana was pregnant at the
9 time of her death is one that will be explored during
10 the course of the inquests. I shall touch on the issue
11 later today. But just as her comment to journalists
12 would appear to have nothing to do with Dodi, neither
13 could her physique at a time before their relationship
14 had begun.
15 Diana flew back to England with her sons on
16 20th July 1997. On 20th July, she went to the funeral
17 in Milan of Gianni Versace, the murdered fashion
18 designer. She then spent three days in England with her
19 sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale. Dodi remained in
20 Saint Tropez. Diana and Dodi then spent together
21 the weekend of 26th and 27th July in Paris, unnoticed by
22 the media or the public. They returned to England and
23 appeared to have met in London. On Thursday 31st July,
24 they flew to Nice and holidayed on the French and
25 Italian Riviera on Mohamed Al Fayed's yacht, the Jonikal
1 [photo produced - Mario Brenna].
2 From then onwards, media attention was much greater
3 and no attempt was made by either Diana or Dodi to
4 conceal their growing relationship from the public or
5 press. It was during this time that Mario Brenna, an
6 Italian photographer, captured the shot that the world's
7 media had been waiting for of Dodi and Diana exchanging
8 a kiss.
9 There is evidence that the appearance of this
10 photograph in the international media some days later
11 and rumours about the sum paid for it fuelled media
12 interest still further. There is a not very good copy
13 of the picture (photo produced).
14 Dodi had two bodyguards who worked week about,
15 Trevor Rees and John Johnson. Both were employed by
16 the Al Fayed family. During that first cruise on
17 the Jonikal, John Johnson was with him.
18 Dodi and Diana returned to England from that first
19 cruise together on Wednesday 6th August 1997. On Friday
20 8th August, Diana flew to Bosnia to support the United
21 Nations Landmines Campaign, with which she was
22 passionately concerned. She returned to London on
23 Sunday 10th August. Then, on 15th August, Diana flew to
24 Greece with her friend, Rosa Monckton. They sailed on
25 a small boat cruising the Greek Islands until
1 20th August, when she returned to England. Meanwhile,
2 Dodi had been in Los Angeles.
3 On Friday 22nd August, Diana flew to Nice with Dodi
4 to rejoin the yacht Jonikal. They cruised the
5 Mediterranean coasts of France, Monaco and Sardinia.
6 Two bodyguards, Trevor Rees and Kieran Wingfield,
7 accompanied them. As these were private trips, there
8 were no police personal protection officers travelling
9 with Diana.
10 On Saturday 30th August, Diana and Dodi flew from
11 Olbia Airport in Sardinia to Le Bourget, on
12 the outskirts of Paris, arriving at 3.20 pm.
13 Trevor Rees, Kieran Wingfield, Rene Delorm (Dodi's
14 Butler), Myriah Daniels (a holistic healer) and
15 Deborah Gribble (chief stewardess on the Jonikal)
16 accompanied them. Some paparazzi were waiting at
17 Le Bourget and took photographs when they got off
18 the plane. It is unclear how the paparazzi were aware
19 that Diana and Dodi were coming to Le Bourget, although
20 there is a suggestion that they were tipped off by
21 someone in Sardinia.
22 From Le Bourget Airport in Paris, Diana and Dodi
23 were driven by Philippe Dourneau, an experienced and
24 regular chauffeur for Dodi and the Al Fayed family, to
25 Villa Windsor, the house in the Bois de Boulogne which
1 belonged to Mohamed Al Fayed and was formerly owned by
2 the late Duchess of Windsor. Trevor Rees was in a car,
3 which was a Mercedes, but not the same Mercedes that was
4 involved in the collision later that night. The group
5 were at Villa Windsor for less than an hour in total.
6 Henri Paul drove the others in a Range Rover to
7 Dodi's apartment at Rue Arsene Houssaye, where he
8 dropped off the baggage and the other members of the
9 party, before driving on to the Villa Windsor and
10 meeting up with Dodi and Diana.
11 At about 4.30 pm, Philippe Dourneau drove Dodi,
12 Diana and Rees to the Ritz Hotel, arriving at the rear
13 entrance in the Rue Cambon. Henri Paul followed in
14 the Range Rover.
15 I should now show you some plans in the bundle of
16 documents that is about to be provided to you.
17 The first plan in the bundle is at page 1
18 [INQ-JB1-0000001] and, members of the jury, if you would
19 turn that up, it is a general map of parts of Western
20 and Continental Europe and you will see marked Nice,
21 Saint Tropez, and Monte Carlo, where the various
22 holidays took place. Olbia Airport is also marked.
23 That is in Sardinia, from where the couple flew on 30th
24 August to Paris. You will also see Paris at the top,
25 towards the left-hand side of the plan.
1 The second plan in your bundle, if you would turn to
2 page 2 [INQ-JB1-0000002], shows a large-scale view of
3 Central Paris. You will see Le Bourget Airport towards
4 the top of the plan and slightly to the right, where
5 the couple arrived. You will also see Dodi's apartment,
6 at 1 Rue Arsene Houssaye, pretty well slap in the middle
7 of the plan, and you will see the Ritz Hotel, which is
8 just about bang in the middle of the plan, and Villa
9 Windsor, which is a little to the left. You will also
10 see marked Orly Airport, towards the bottom of the plan,
11 but you need not concern yourselves with that for
12 the moment.
13 If you turn over to the next plan, this plan shows
14 what would have been the natural route from Le Bourget
15 Airport to Villa Windsor. Le Bourget is up towards
16 the top right-hand side of the plan, and you will see
17 the brown line that shows the obvious route, finishing
18 with Villa Windsor in the middle of the Bois de Boulogne
19 towards the bottom left. Also shown is the position of
20 Dodi's apartment.
21 Would you move on, please, to page 6
22 [INQ-JB1-0000006] of the bundle, missing out 4 and 5 for
23 the moment? This shows a general view of the centre of
24 Paris. The important points marked on it are Dodi's
25 apartment, which is on the top left-hand side of the
1 plan, near the Arc de Triomphe, and the Ritz Hotel,
2 marked pretty near to the middle of the plan. They are
3 a relatively short distance away from each other in
4 the centre of Paris. On the bottom right-hand corner is
5 a restaurant which I think is called "Chez Benoit". You
6 need not worry about that for the moment, but it will be
7 mentioned quite shortly.
8 Let me return very briefly to the narrative. After
9 their arrival in the Ritz, the couple went up to the
10 Imperial Suite on the first floor, a large suite at the
11 front of the hotel overlooking the Place Vendome. There
12 is a foyer area of the suite. Shortly after their
13 arrival at the Ritz, Dodi paid a visit to Repossi,
14 the jeweller, which is just across the Place Vendome.
15 You can see both the Ritz and Repossi on the plan at
16 page 4 [INQ-JB1-00000004] -- well, it is not actually a plan,
17 it is an area photograph. You see the Ritz at the top
18 left-hand side of the Place Vendome, which is the square
19 in the middle, and Repossi, the jeweller, diagonally
20 opposite, on the bottom right-hand side of the
21 photograph. I shall return to this visit later.
22 Claude Roulet, the assistant to the president of the
23 Ritz Hotel, whose name is Franz Klein, went ahead of
24 Dodi to meet him at Repossi. At about 7 o'clock that
25 evening, Dodi and Diana left the Ritz again by the rear
1 entrance and were driven by Philippe Dourneau to Dodi's
2 apartment in Rue Arsene Houssaye. The paparazzi
3 followed. This time, the Range Rover was driven by
4 Jean-Francois Musa, the owner of Etoile Limousine, a car
5 company which had close links with the Ritz.
6 Henri Paul went off duty at 7 pm and left the Ritz.
7 There is a question mark about what he was doing between
8 then and about 10 pm, when he was back in the Ritz. One
9 of the issues we shall be exploring is where he was and
10 what he was doing during those three hours. Another is
11 his fitness to drive when he later drove Diana and Dodi.
12 The paparazzi were aware of the journey at 7 pm and one
13 of the matters which you will have to consider is the
14 extent of their intrusiveness on this and the return
16 At 9.30 pm, Dodi and Diana left Dodi's apartment,
17 intending to dine at the Chez Benoit restaurant at
18 20 Rue Saint Martin. If we return to the plan at page 6
19 [INQ-JB1-0000006] in the bundle, you can see where
20 Chez Benoit is -- bottom right-hand corner of the
21 plan -- in relation to the Ritz. It is also in
22 Central Paris, but to the east of the Ritz Hotel.
23 Monsieur Roulet had made the reservation and was
24 waiting for them on the pavement outside the restaurant.
25 Again, Dourneau drove the Mercedes, with Dodi and Diana
1 in the rear. Musa drove the Range Rover with Wingfield
2 and Rees in it, so as to give the couple more privacy.
3 On that return journey, Dodi told Dourneau to abandon
4 the plan to drive to the restaurant, but to go instead
5 to the Ritz. The reason is likely to have been that by
6 this time, the paparazzi had become especially intrusive
7 and neither Dodi nor Diana wished to risk the paparazzi
8 at the restaurant. At the Ritz, they would be on home
9 territory and, once inside, could be insulated and more
10 generally looked after by the Ritz staff.
11 They arrived at the Ritz at about 9.50 pm, this time
12 at the front entrance in the Place Vendome. Inside
13 the Ritz, Dodi and Diana went at first to one of the
14 restaurants, but then quickly left for the privacy of
15 the Imperial Suite on the first floor, where they dined.
16 There they stayed until about 12.20, in the early hours
17 of Sunday 31st August, when they left on their fateful
18 journey, intending to return to Dodi's apartment at
19 Rue Arsene Houssaye.
20 They left not by the front entrance, but by a rear
21 entrance in the Rue Cambon. It appears that this was
22 a subterfuge to put the paparazzi off the scent because
23 the Mercedes and the Range Rover stayed at the front, as
24 did their drivers, Philippe Dourneau and
25 Jean-Francois Musa. Kieran Wingfield also remained at
1 the front.
2 Frederic Lucard, a student doing holiday work, was
3 sent to the car park under the Place Vendome to bring up
4 another Mercedes belonging to the company
5 Etoile Limousine. He brought it to the Rue Cambon and
6 parked it outside the Salon de Nuit entrance, there
7 being roadworks outside the service entrance.
8 It quickly set off with Henri Paul driving,
9 Trevor Rees in the front passenger seat, Diana in
10 the rear behind Rees and Dodi in the rear behind
11 Henri Paul. It was, as I have said, a left-hand drive
12 vehicle, so both Henri Paul and Dodi were on the
13 left-hand side of the car and Trevor Rees and Diana on
14 the right-hand side. There was no back-up vehicle,
15 which would have been a basic security precaution. You
16 will hear evidence that the bodyguards were not happy
17 about this.
18 An important issue in the evidence will be whose
19 decision it was that Henri Paul should drive. Sadly, he
20 died in the accident so he cannot tell us. Although not
21 accredited as a chauffeur, Henri Paul had been on
22 several Mercedes courses in Germany and there is no
23 suggestion that he was ordinarily other than a perfectly
24 competent driver.
25 The Mercedes was a S280. It has often been referred
1 to as a high-powered motor car, but in fact the engine
2 was the smallest available in that model and there are
3 many who might consider it underpowered. It appears
4 that although a decision had been taken some time before
5 the journey to get a third car, steps were put in train
6 to do so only minutes before the couple left. This
7 Mercedes was the only one available.
8 Not all the paparazzi were at the front of the
9 hotel. Some were at the back in the Rue Cambon.
10 Henri Paul was heard to say to them not to try to catch
11 him because they would not succeed. One of those at
12 the rear was Jacques Langevin, who took some photographs
13 of the departing Mercedes from the front of that
14 vehicle. One of his photographs became very well known.
15 It is in the bundle that you have at page 46
16 [INQ-JB1-0000046]. Would you please have a look at it?
17 You can see the driver, Henri Paul, as you look at
18 the photograph on the right. Then there is Trevor Rees,
19 the bodyguard, just peeping under the visor, and in
20 the rear you can see the head and shoulders of Diana.
21 This photograph became well known because it was
22 often misdescribed. Repeatedly it was suggested that
23 the photograph was taken as the car was entering
24 the Alma Underpass, either by a paparazzo or by a speed
25 camera. That is not so. This photograph was on the
1 film taken by the French police from Monsieur Langevin
2 and it was identified by him as having been taken as
3 the couple left the Ritz.
4 Soon after the couple left from the rear of the
5 Ritz, Dourneau and Musa drove the other Mercedes and
6 the Range Rover to the Arsene Houssaye apartment,
7 unaware of the tragedy in the Alma Underpass.
8 Henri Paul drove along the Rue Cambon to
9 the junction with the Rue de Rivoli, where he turned
10 right, heading into the Place de la Concorde. After
11 being held at the traffic lights, he continued towards
12 the embankment road of the River Seine. Would you
13 please look at the plan at page 9 [INQ-JB1-0000009] of
14 your bundles?
15 It shows in red the route taken by Henri Paul.
16 We see the Ritz Hotel is a long building and fairly
17 narrow. The back of it backs onto the Rue Cambon, and
18 there you will see the red line beginning, down the
19 Rue Cambon, then turning right into Rue de Rivoli, which
20 you can see marked on the plan, and then around
21 the Place de la Concorde. So that is getting your
22 bearings from the plan. It might help you just to keep
23 a finger in the plan at page 9 [INQ-JB1-0000009].
24 Can I next show you some photographs of the route of
25 the Mercedes? Now, these photographs were taken in 2005
1 in conditions of much lighter traffic, but they should
2 help you to understand the scene. You will find them at
3 page 23 [INQ-JB1-0000023] and onwards of your bundle.
4 They are taken chronologically along the route.
5 First you will see the rear exit of the Ritz Hotel
6 into the Rue Cambon. That is the picture on the left,
7 on page 23 [INQ-JB1-0000023] then, on the right of
8 page 23 [INQ-JB1-0000023], the view that the driver
9 would have had in the direction he went down
10 the Rue Cambon; over on to page 24 [INQ-JB1-0000024],
11 two more pictures, each as the driver got further down
12 the Rue Cambon.
13 Then, page 25 [INQ-JB1-0000025], even further down
14 the Rue Cambon, now getting nearer towards the junction
15 with the Rue de Rivoli, and the right-hand side of
16 page 25 [INQ-JB1-0000025]; further still down the road;
17 the same in 26 [INQ-JB1-0000026], on the left, yet
18 further down the road, and on the right of 26
19 [INQ-JB1-0000026] towards the junction.
20 Then, on page 27 [INQ-JB1-0000027], the left-hand
21 photograph shows what the driver would have seen as he
22 turned right out of the Rue Cambon. He would have come
23 from, I think, more or less this side of the arrow which
24 you see there -- he would have come there and turned
25 that way (indicating).
1 Then, on the right-hand side of page 27
2 [INQ-JB1-0000027], further down the Rue de Rivoli facing
3 towards the Place de la Concorde, when you see these
4 streaks of red light, that is simply a consequence of
5 camera exposure of, I think, the rear lights of
6 vehicles, so don't worry about that.
7 Then, turning to page 28 [INQ-JB1-0000028], we get
8 into the Place de la Concorde. This is the view as
9 the driver approaches into the square. The Mercedes
10 obviously could not turn left because that is a no entry
11 sign, so it goes straight on, in the direction directly
12 away from the camera, and continues, as you see, in 29
13 [INQ-JB1-0000029] and 30 [INQ-JB1-0000030] and 31
15 By now, we are getting close to the traffic signals
16 at the Avenue de Champs-Elysees and then we can leave
17 the photographs for the moment and turn back to the plan
18 to get your bearings of where we are.
19 The plan on 9 [INQ-JB1-0000009], you can see
20 the Place de la Concorde and how the Mercedes has gone
21 round it and will be going to go out in that direction
22 of the red line lining up with the River Seine.
23 Now, the most direct route to Dodi's apartment would
24 have been along the Avenue de Champs-Elysees. This
25 would have involved Henri Paul turning right off
1 the Place de la Concorde, as you can see from your plan
2 at 9, or any of 8A or B or 9 [INQ-JB1-0000009], rather
3 than going further round the square and onto
4 the embankment road. But members of the jury, there is
5 heavy traffic on the Champs-Elysees on a Saturday night
6 and professional drivers have provided evidence that
7 they would go along the embankment road,
8 Cours la Reine 1, and under the Alexandre III tunnel.
9 However -- and this is important -- after
10 the Alexandre III tunnel, there is an exit sliproad to
11 the right, leading to the Avenue George V or
12 the Avenue Marceau.
13 To get to Dodi's apartment, a professional driver
14 might perhaps have been expected to take that road. You
15 can see the professional driver's route from the Ritz to
16 the apartment on the plan at 8A [INQ-JB1-000008a].
17 If you turn up 8A [INQ-JB1-000008a], you can just
18 see Cours Albert 1er, and then the red line turns to
19 the right as the professional driver would go off to
20 the right and in the direction of Dodi's apartment.
21 Henri Paul did not take this sliproad -- and we will
22 see it in a moment on the photographs -- but continued
23 on the embankment road. To get to the apartment, he
24 would then have had to take a more roundabout route,
25 which you can see on the next plan in your bundle, at 8B
2 You can see that he would have continued further
3 along and then had to double back up the Avenue d'Iena,
4 I think it is -- I cannot read it terribly well -- as
5 shown on the plan.
6 One of the issues that you will have to consider is
7 why he, Henri Paul, did not take the sliproad.
8 A possible explanation is that he was being hounded by
9 other vehicles. Another is that he was simply going too
10 quickly to be able to negotiate the turn. A third is
11 that a vehicle was travelling in the right-hand lane and
12 thus blocked his exit. If he had taken that sliproad as
13 being the quickest route, then any conspiracy to do
14 murder in the tunnel would have been certain to fail.
15 The weather was fine and dry. It was a very warm
16 night. The activities of the paparazzi are an important
17 matter for your consideration. When the Mercedes left
18 the rear of the Ritz, Serge Benhamou was with his
19 scooter. Jacques Langevin and Fabrice Chassery's
20 vehicles were parked. David Odekerken arrived just as
21 the Mercedes left and Alain Guizard was in his vehicle
22 to the south of the rear exit. Some other paparazzi
23 were at the front of the Ritz and played a part later
25 I shall return to the subject of the paparazzi in
1 more detail later. The picture is far from clear,
2 certainly in the early part of the journey, but one can
3 perhaps imagine the reaction of those waiting at
4 the front of the hotel when they realised Dodi and Diana
5 had given them the slip from the rear.
6 The embankment road is straight. It starts as
7 Cours la Reine. It goes through a tunnel,
8 the Alexandre III tunnel, and becomes Cours Albert 1er.
9 You can see the view along that road on the photographs
10 in your bundle, starting at page 32 [INQ-JB1-0000032]and
11 continuing until page 39 [INQ-JB1-0000039].
12 So 32 [INQ-JB1-0000032] is Place de la Concorde
13 facing south, towards the bend leading into
14 Cours la Reine. 31 [INQ-JB1-0000031] on the right, we
15 have now got into Cours la Reine, always travelling in
16 the direction that the Mercedes was travelling. And
17 then, the Cours la Reine, with the first entry to
18 the service road, continuing down Cours la Reine, on the
19 right-hand side of page 33 [INQ-JB1-0000033], and then,
20 on Cours la Reine, again facing west, this shows
21 the second entry into the service road. And then,
22 Cours la Reine with the entry into the first tunnel,
23 the Alexandre III tunnel.
24 Another picture going into the tunnel at page 35
25 [INQ-JB1-0000035], a couple of pictures inside
1 the tunnel at 36 [INQ-JB1-0000036], coming out of the
2 Alexandre III tunnel at 37 [INQ-JB1-0000037] and then,
3 Cours Albert 1er after coming out of the tunnel.
4 Then, we find, at 38 [INQ-JB1-0000038], the picture
5 of the third entry to the service road and the exit that
6 one might expected the professional driver to have taken
7 if following the route to Dodi's apartment.
8 Then, page 39 [INQ-JB1-0000039], we are now
9 beginning to approach the Alma Underpass, on the
10 left-hand side of the photograph, and then
11 the right-hand picture on page 39 [INQ-JB1-0000039] is
12 an important picture and we will no doubt be looking at
13 it on a number of occasions. You will see that there
14 is, on that picture, an entry into that road from
15 vehicles on the right-hand side.
16 One of the matters that is likely to fall for
17 consideration is whether a vehicle came in there and
18 into the path of the Mercedes. You can see that more
19 clearly in the photograph at 40 [INQ-JB1-0000040], in
20 fact, where you can see the entry sliproad from
21 the right.
22 The speed of the Mercedes appears to have increased
23 as it continued its journey along the embankment road.
24 The speed of the Mercedes is not susceptible to any
25 accurate calculation at this point. An assessment
1 depends on eye witness evidence. Witnesses put it in
2 the range of 96 to 150 kilometres per hour;
3 the equivalent of between 60 and 93 MPH. The speed
4 limit was 50 kilometres per hour or 31 miles per hour.
5 The Mercedes continued along the Cours Albert 1er
6 and down into the Place de l'Alma underpass. You can
7 see the entrance to the underpass in the photographs at
8 40 and 41 in the bundle.
9 In the underpass, the car crashed into the
10 13th pillar. The effect, members of the jury, of
11 hitting the edge of the pillar head-on was to stop
12 the Mercedes immediately and bounce it back. Tremendous
13 forces were transmitted through the vehicle and its
14 occupants. The photographs of the damage to the
15 Mercedes convey vividly the violence of the impact. You
16 can see some of those photographs at pages 47
17 [INQ-JB1-0000047] to 50 [INQ-JB1-0000050] of the bundle.
18 None of these photographs will show pictures of any of
19 the occupants, members of the jury.
20 You see, 47 [INQ-JB1-0000047], four pictures there;
21 48 [INQ-JB1-0000048], various people have arrived on the
22 scene; 49 [INQ-JB1-0000049], closeups of the crash
23 vehicle; and 50 [INQ-JB1-0000050], with the fire service
24 on the scene.
25 It is particularly unfortunate, members of the jury,
1 that the vehicle crashed into one of the pillars. Had
2 the vehicle hit the wall on the front passenger side,
3 that is the right-hand side of the tunnel -- you can see
4 this in page 43 [INQ-JB1-0000043] -- then the force of
5 the impact would have been transmitted through a much
6 wider area and the consequences to the car and its
7 occupants much less serious.
8 The same would have been the case if the corner of
9 the car had hit the side of one of the pillars, rather
10 than the corner of the pillar. If you would look at
11 page 44 [INQ-JB1-0000044], you will see the pillar
12 highlighted and you will see what I mean by the "corner
13 of the pillar". The effect of the force being
14 transmitted through the smaller narrower area of
15 the pillar was that the result of the impact was much
16 more serious.
17 You will have to consider whether the precise nature
18 of the impact could ever have been planned in advance or
19 orchestrated with any confidence. What was
20 the immediate cause of the collision?
21 Scientific evidence shows that the Mercedes appears
22 to have been involved in glancing contact with another
23 vehicle. Analyses of paintmarks and debris indicates
24 that this vehicle was probably a white Fiat Uno. Some
25 tyre marks were found in the road. The Transport
1 Research Laboratory, with the aid of recently developed
2 computer simulation software, has been able, from known
3 facts, in particular the tyre marks, their position and
4 orientation and its knowledge from experiments of how
5 a Mercedes S280 would have made them, to build
6 a reconstruction.
7 It is right to observe that French accident
8 investigators in 1997 did not associate the skid marks
9 with the Mercedes, but that is not the view of any of
10 the experts who have considered this question with care
11 for the purposes of these inquests.
12 This evidence of the reconstruction experts, which
13 is quite independent of eye witness impression, suggests
14 that the speed of the Mercedes, when it hit the pillar,
15 was between 60 and 65 miles per hour, 96 to
16 104 kilometres per hour, and about 67 to 71 miles per
17 hour when it entered the underpass, and this on a road
18 where the limit was 31 miles per hour or 50 kilometres
19 per hour. Experts instructed by the Ritz Hotel have
20 also considered this question and there is agreement
21 about the speed of the Mercedes at the time.
22 The Transport Research Laboratory reconstruction has
23 suggested the following scenario: as the Mercedes
24 approached the left-hand bend immediately before
25 the underpass, the driver needed to apply steering to
1 the left, partly to follow the line of the bend in
2 the road and quite possibly also to avoid the presence
3 of a slower-moving vehicle -- the bend in the road is
4 shown perhaps best in the photograph at 40
5 [INQ-JB1-0000040] -- so maybe also to avoid the presence
6 of a slower moving vehicle in the right-hand lane,
7 ie the white Fiat Uno.
8 Had he not swerved, he would have hit the Fiat in
9 the rear. However, he was not completely successful in
10 avoiding the Fiat and hit it a glancing blow, sending
11 the Mercedes towards the centre kerb.
12 The scenario continues, suggesting that the driver
13 of the Mercedes corrected by steering to the right, but
14 was then faced with hitting the underpass wall on his
15 right. Accordingly, he swerved to the left but lost
16 control and hit the centre kerb and pillar.
17 Members of the jury, the precise movements of the
18 Mercedes and the Uno are matters for you to consider
19 with the benefit of the expert evidence that you will be
20 provided with. Whether the Uno was always following
21 a straight path in the right-hand slow lane or moved
22 into the path of the Mercedes in some way or even
23 deliberately engineered a collision is something that
24 the experts may debate before you.
25 Photographs of the Mercedes show the paint mark left
1 by the glancing impact between the Fiat and
2 the Mercedes. It was on the front right-hand wing of
3 the car. You will see the mark on the photograph at
4 page 49 [INQ-JB1-0000049] of your bundle, in
5 the bottom-left photograph. It is slightly obscured by
6 the light. At the bottom-left of the photograph,
7 the scrape mark is underneath that mark of the light.
8 Do you see there? I think that is probably it
10 Debris was found in the road which confirmed that
11 the rear left-side light cluster of the Fiat was struck
12 by the Mercedes. Forensic tests conducted by the French
13 authorities were able to show that the paint left on the
14 Mercedes came from a Fiat Uno of a particular white
15 colour and also that the broken plastic came from
16 a Fiat Uno light cluster.
17 Experts have used the distribution of the debris
18 from the vehicles found in the road to calculate
19 the likely point of impact between the Mercedes and
20 the Uno. There may be a difference of view between
21 the experts of the Transport Research Laboratory and the
22 experts instructed by interested persons about
23 the precise point.
24 Where did the white Fiat come from? It is unclear
25 whether it joined from the sliproad on the right that
1 I have shown you or was already travelling along
2 the Cours Albert 1er. Furthermore, some witnesses refer
3 to a dark vehicle rather than a white one, but that may
4 simply be a false impression caused by the lighting
6 We will probably all have experience of driving,
7 being driven or watching cars go by at night, albeit
8 with some street lighting. No two witnesses will
9 describe things and events in exactly the same way and
10 nor would you expect them to. People tend to notice and
11 remember things differently.
12 You will have to consider carefully what it was that
13 caused the driver of the Mercedes to lose control.
14 Obviously the faster you are going, the more difficult
15 it is and the less time you have to deal with an
16 emergency or untoward situation. One possibility is
17 distraction by following vehicles; another is excessive
18 speed; and a third is that the Fiat blocked his path,
19 whether by accident or design. Yet another is the
20 suggestion that the driver may have been distracted or
21 blinded by a bright flashing light, whether deliberately
22 or otherwise.
23 Alcohol is both a disinhibiting factor and something
24 that makes a driver's reactions slower. It is very much
25 in issue whether Henri Paul was fit to drive that night.
1 On the one hand, almost all who had contact with him did
2 not notice anything untoward about him; whilst, on the
3 other, tests carried out on his body appear to show that
4 he was well over the drink drive limit.
5 The way in which those tests were carried out is
6 strongly criticised by expert witnesses. I shall return
7 to this aspect of the case in due course. At this
8 stage, I simply mention that it will be for your
9 consideration whether all or any of these factors caused
10 or contributed to the fatal loss of control and crash.
11 Well, members of the jury, that is a convenient time
12 to break for lunch.
13 We will resume at quarter past two. I hope that
14 the lunching arrangements for you today and in
15 the future are satisfactory. If you have any complaints
16 about them, you had better let me know. We are anxious
17 to do the best that we can for you for what will be
18 quite a long business. Thank you.
19 (1.12 pm)
20 (The short adjournment)