By Jeffrey Steinberg
EIRNS(January 11, 1999)-- Britain's Sunday Mirror on Jan. 10 published a lengthy banner-headline news account, purportedly based on leaked sections of the final report of French Judge Herve Stephan, indicating that the sole blame for the Aug. 31, 1997 Paris car crash that claimed the lives of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed, fell on Henri Paul, the driver of their Mercedes, who was also killed in the crash. French police have been trying foist all the blame on Paul, claiming that autopsy tests showed that the driver was drunk and also high on prescription drugs, at the time of the crash.
The Mirror quoted key sections of the purported report as stating, "From the overall examination of the known factors the accident may be due to excess speed, the peculiar characteristics of the road, the presence of a Fiat Uno at the mouth of the tunnel, and the poor control of the vehicle by the driver."
But, according to sources intimately familiar with the ongoing probe, the Mirror story was based on pure disinformation, probably originated with a British MI6 propaganda specialist who has been posted at the British embassy in Paris since the crash. Richard Spearman, suspected of being the author of the disinformation, reports directly to the MI6 chief, Sir David Spedding. The sources say that Judge Stephan has assured attorneys for the families of both Henri Paul and Mohammad Al Fayed, that the Mirror account was false. It is expected that press releases will be issued by the Paul and Al Fayed attorneys in Paris, disputing the Mirror account.
The last "official" word to come out of Judge Stephan, the chief French investigator of the crash, in late August 1998, highlighted a number of disturbing unanswered questions, one year into the probe. He emphasized that the blood tests on Henri Paul had also revealed the presence of a near-lethal dose of carbon monoxide in Paul's system at the moment of the crash. An individual suffering from such an extreme state of carbon monoxide poison could barely walk. Yet eyewitnesses described Paul as being completely in control of the Mercedes, as he drove along the river-front highway leading into the Palace de l'Alma tunnel.
Stephan also cited failure of the French police to locate the Fiat Uno which collided with the Mercedes, triggering the crash. The car and driver disappeared from the site into thin air, and despite a year-long dragnet search, no credible leads were developed as to the whereabouts or identity of the driver.
The judge also ordered a thorough probe of the botched emergency rescue effort. Princess Diana was not brought to the Pitie Salpetriere hospital for more than two hours after the crash; and some of the emergency medical care she received may have contributed to her death.
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