Report: Princess Diana's Driver Was Drunk - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/11/06-LONDON, England

Report: Princess Diana's Driver Was Drunk

A memorial to Diana and Dodi at Harrods department store in London. A memorial to Diana and Dodi at Harrods department store in London.

 New DNA evidence proves the driver of Princess Diana's car was drunk on the night of her fatal crash in a Paris underpass in 1997, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported Saturday.

The tests confirm that original post-mortem blood samples were from driver Henri Paul and that he had three times the French legal limit of alcohol in his blood, the BBC said, quoting from a documentary it will screen Sunday.

Paul, Diana, 36, and her friend, Dodi Fayed, 42, were killed when their Mercedes crashed in the Pont d'Alma tunnel in Paris on August 31, 1997 while the couple were being followed by media photographers.

Rumors and conspiracy theories continue to swirl around the death of the former wife of Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, despite a French judge's 1999 ruling that the crash was an accident. An investigation later concluded that Paul had been drinking and was driving at high speed.

Conspiracy theorists have claimed that Paul's blood samples were swapped with blood from someone else -- who was drunk -- and contended that the driver had not been drinking on the night Diana died.

An official British report into the crash, to be published on Thursday, is expected to find that her death was an accident.

The Observer newspaper said the report, compiled by former Metropolitan Police chief John Stevens, would conclude Paul was drunk at the time of the crash.

But it is unlikely to stop the conspiracy theories. Among the report's findings, the newspaper said, was the fact the U.S. Secret Service was bugging Diana's phone on the night of her death without the approval of its British counterpart.

The newspaper said U.S. officials had assured Stevens the secretly recorded conversations shed no new light on her death.

It said Stevens' report would also confirm claims that Paul had been in the pay of the French intelligence services.

British police declined to comment on the BBC report or Stevens' investigation.

The BBC reported that an unidentified source with access to the French investigation had said that, within the past year, French officials took a DNA profile from Paul's blood samples and matched it with his parents' DNA, proving the samples had not been switched.

Prof. Andre Lienhart, who reviewed the emergency services' response for the French investigation, told the program, called "The Conspiracy Files," that a key factor in the accident was that Diana had not worn a seat belt.

"What is certain is that she was not wearing a seat belt and this made things worse," Lienhart was quoted as saying in extracts screened Saturday. "We would like to think that if she had been wearing a seat belt, we'd have been able to save her."

This week, a former judge who will preside over Diana's British inquest said preliminary hearings will be held in public and not in private, as had been planned, after a protest from Fayed's father, Mohammed Fayed, who owns Harrods department store.

The inquest, convened and then swiftly adjourned in 2004, is due to formally resume next year. Preliminary hearings will be held January 8-9 at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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