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Evening Standard from London, Greater London, England • 254

Evening Standardi
London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
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2 FRIDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 1999 EVENING STANDARD INSIDEVTONIGHTtSl standardJME from IAN SPARKS in Paris PATRICK SAWER and ED HARRIS Consequently from all of the investigations and from the different expert reports it transpires that the direct cause of the accident is the presence at the wheel of the Mercedes S280 of a driver who had consumed a considerable amount of alcohol combined with the fact that he had recently taken medication driving at a speed not only faster than the maximum speed limit in built-up areas but excessive when taking account of the layout of the places and the predictable obstacles notably the presence on his right of a vehicle moving at a slower pace Therefore the loss of control of the vehicle by the driver in the Alma tunnel constitutes the main cause of the accident FROM THE REPORT PRESENTED BY HERVE STEPHAN and MARIE-CHRISTINE DEVIDAL Time for the party animal to lie back Pete Clark learns to lounge PAGE 29 Lessons from a master: Brian Sewell on Titian PAGES 32 33 DIANA Princess of Wales was killed because chauffeur Henri Paul was driving at high speed after taking a deadly cocktail of drink and anti-depressants French judge Herv6 Stephan ruled today report clears nine paparazzi and a motorcyclist of blame for the Paris crash in the Alma underpass near the River Seine just over two years ago They had initially been accused of causing the crash by chasing car from the Ritz Hotel In their final report investigating magistrates Stephan and Marie-Christine Devidal found that Paul was mainly to blame for the accident in which he was killed along with Diana and Dodi Fayed on 31 August 1997 The judgment came shortly before 10am London time and brings to an end the two-year investigation into death only four days after the second anniversary of the accident In his ruling Judge Stephan said: crash was caused by the fact that the driver of the car was in a drunken state and under the influence of drugs that were not compatible with alcohol condition rendered him incapable of controlling the vehicle which he was driving at high speed on a difficult stretch of road and at the same time as he was trying to avoid another vehicle driving in the same direction at a slower speed than him investigation has not established a direct connection with the accident itself and the actions of those who were put under But Judge Stephan stressed: attitude adopted by some of the photographers arrested at the scene of the accident was unanimously and severely criticised by witnesses who saw them there their behaviour however it may be seen from a moral and ethical point of view did not amount to criminal The presence of the other car known to be a white Fiat Uno was said in the report to be an aggravating factor The car A night on the styles: Katie Puckrick checks out hottest hotel PAGES 62 63 Comment It is understandable that Mohamed Fayed should be appealing against the French verdict But the rest of us can now put this tragedy behind us in the sure knowledge that justice has been done page 13 the time Trevor Rees-Jones who survived the crash has lodged a claim for damages for his injuries against the Ritz hotel bosses for allowing Paul to drive without a special limousine licence He declined to comment on report However his French lawyer Christian Curtil said he was pleased with the decisions have always said that the photographers were not criminally liable although they may have been morally liable" he added client is also very happy that the examining magistrate has recognised that it was Dodi Fayed and not Mr Rees-Jones that took decisions that may have led to the mother Frances Shand Kydd said she accepted the findings and added: Diana rest in peace and I hope that now the inquiry is concluded her family may be given Henri Paul's parents said they were that their son had been officially blamed Speaking from their bumped against Mercedes seconds before the accident and left traces of white paint on its bodywork before vanishing from the scene A six-month nationwide search for the vehicle by French police was unsuccessful The nine photographers and one motorcyclist had faced charges of manslaughter for allegedly forcing car off the road and failing to assist the crash victims at the scene by taking photographs instead of calling emergency services But Judge Stephan has followed the recommendations of Paris chief prosecutor Maud Morel Coujard and dropped the charges His decision is certain to trigger civil court battles that could go on for years Harrods boss Mohamed Fayed today vowed to appeal immediately against any decision to drop the manslaughter charges His spokesman Laurie Mayer said many had not been questioned including the driver of the Fiat Uno and the paparazzi bodyguard at FREE ON MONDAY Just the Job: where to find the best jobs in London home in Lorient Brittany Jean and Giselle Paul said they planned to launch an immediate appeal against the decision to drop all charges against the paparazzi Earl Spencer brother of Princess Diana thanked the French legal authorities and said he accepted their conclusions In a brief statement he added: "I would like to thank the French authorities for the time and effort that they have put into tin? investigation and I respect the legal conclusions that have been Buckingham Palace refused to comment on the report is no reaction from a spokesman said Romuald Rat one of the French photographers who said he spoke to Princess Diana as she lay dying in the Mercedes said in a statement that the decision was immense relief and puts an end to two very trying years" Rat who works for the picture agency Gamma said: impartial work of the two investigating magistrates was able to prove that my colleagues and myself were only doing our jobs contrary to what certain (other) were eager to He said: took the pulse and then told her and Trevor Rees Jones OK the doctor is He said that only when the police had arrived and he knew medical help was coming did he begin taking more photographs He admitted to taking 19 in all Nikola Arsov 39 another of the Diana photographers and a friend of said: never did anything wrong that night and now French justice has finally and officially stated this fact We knew there was never enough evidence to take us to court and Judge Stephan has today admitted the same Photographer Laslo Veres said: now people will finally realise it was a drunk driver not us photog-raphers that killed Princess Sources at the Paris Palais de Justice said: is certain to appeal everything because no one wants to be held fully or partly responsible for anything to do with this crash In that sense we are not even close to hearing the end of this matter In legal terms it is just the Dodi was in charge on fateful night by MARTIN DELGADO Tonight's weather: Warm sunshine with a light breeze DODI FAYED was in sole charge of the arrangements for the Paris visit and his insistence that the drunken Henri Paul drive the Mercedes when he should have been off duty was a contributory factor in the crash the report concludes Dodi had the power to decide and recall was the consequence of taken by the Harrods son according to the Paris office Although most of the blame is directed towards Paul Dodi was angry when he saw the photographers and appears to have over-reacted The report makes clear that the Mercedes was being driven dangerously fast partly because of determination to shake off the paparazzi Bodyguard Trevor ReesJones told the inquiry team: took an active part in security arrangements he was the boss we did not know the programme in advance Only he knew the The management and staff of the Paris Ritz had been placed at the disposal and Dodi had a last resort the power to decide all says the report The inquiry team adds that despite the disastrous decision to recall Paul Dodi be Weekend weather forecast The fine settled and very warm weather will continue with lots of sunshine in most places although there will be some overnight mist Full details 67 kYOURlFREEISUPPLEMENTI Watching brief: William and Harry attending the launch today Business as usual for Princes PRINCES William and Harry today joined the Prince of Wales for the launch of newest Army brigade The Princes were at RAF Wattisham in Suffolk with Defence Secretary Lord Robertson for the official launch of 16 Air Assault Brigade Prince Charles is Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment and the Army Air Corps which are the key components of the new brigade IF you did not receive your supplement with todays Evening Standard please call the Hotline on 0870 600 7240 All calls will be charged at BT national rate Alternatively you can e-mail: inserts6esentriescauk Please ensure you leave your name and address Including postcode and the supplement you are missing.

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