Who was Princess Diana’s driver Henri Paul? – The Sun | The Sun

FRENCH bodyguard and driver Henri Paul died at the scene of the crash which killed Princess Diana and her partner Dodi Fayed on August 31, 1997.

Her death shocked millions around the world, but an inquest found that Paul was over the alcohol limit when the car crashed in a Paris tunnel.

Who was Henri Paul?

Henri Paul was born on the west coast of France, around 300 miles from Paris on July 6, 1956.

During his early twenties he joined the French Air Force, leaving at the age of 29 having reached the rank of captain.

He later went into security where he worked at the Ritz hotel in Paris.

The 41-year-old had a reputation as a 'macho action man' who loved being around celebrities and meeting high-profile people in his role.

An inquest into Princess Diana's death heard he had been privately treated for alcoholism but his family deny he had a drinking problem.

How did he come to drive Princess Diana on the night she died?

Paul had already picked up Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed from Le Bourget airport outside Paris on the morning of August 31, 1997.

He later took Diana on a shopping trip before finishing his shift.

But he later agreed to return to the hotel and drive the short distance to Mr Fayed's apartment near the Arc de Triomphe. He was said to have been 'over-excited' at the prospect of spending time with the princess.

Mystery remains on what happened that day, as there was a three-hour period between the end of his shift and his return to the hotel where nobody knows where he was.

Blood analysis results from Paul's post-mortem suggest he spent the early evening drinking – he was found to be three-times over the French drink-drive limit.

A post-mortem also found traces of anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medicine in his system, which could have worsened his inebriation.

Evidence from a Ritz bar bill show he had two Ricards – a French aniseed spirit – while waiting to for Diana and Dodi to leave the hotel.

How was he behaving in the lead-up to the crash?

An inquest into Diana's death in 2008 – which found paparazzi photographers and Henri Paul were to blame for her 'unlawful killing' – heard testimonies from bar staff working at the Ritz on the fateful night.

Alain Willaumez said Paul was "drunk" and had been "walking like a clown" hours before the crash.

He said: "I could see first through his eyes and also the way he talked, but more especially in his eyes.
"His eyes were brilliant, wide open and he was visibly in an abnormal condition … he was walking like a clown."

CCTV images from the Ritz do not show any evidence of drunken behaviour.

But, security footage revealed at the inquest show him appearing to wave at photographers just moments before Diana and Dodi left the hotel.

The court was told Paul had goaded waiting photographers, saying: "You won't be able to catch up."

The Mercedes took a detour to Dodi Al Fayed's Paris apartment, and entered the Alma tunnel minutes after leaving the Ritz just before midnight.

The car was travelling around double the 30mph speed limit.

What did police and the inquest jury believe about Henri Paul?

After 22 hours of deliberations, an inquest jury ruled Diana had been unlawfully killed as a result of Paul's drinking driving and chasing photographers.

The forewoman read: "The crash was caused or contributed to by the speed and manner of the driving of the Mercedes, the speed and manner of driving of the following vehicles, the impairment of the judgment of the driver of the Mercedes through alcohol, and there are nine of us who agree on those conclusions.

"In addition, the death of the deceased was caused or contributed to by the fact that the deceased [were] not wearing seatbelt(s), the fact that the Mercedes struck the pillar in the Alma Tunnel rather than colliding with something else, and we are unanimous on that, sir."

Scotland Yard's Operation Paget inquiry investigated criminal allegations of a conspiracy conducted on British soil to kill Diana and Dodi.

The 832-page report compiled by officers found there were no foundations to the allegations of a conspiracy.

Referring to Mr Paul, it concluded: "The concentration of alcohol present in his blood at the time of his death would, unequivocally, have adversely affected his ability to safely control a motor vehicle."

Trevor Rees-Jones, a former bodyguard and the sole survivor of the crash said he believed Henri Paul's drinking had been the cause of the crash.

He said in 2007: "The accident happened because Henri Paul was taking alcohol and was driving the vehicle. That's why the accident happened."

What do the driver's family believe happened to him?

His father Jean, told The Mirror that he believes Diana was deliberately killed in a plot to stop her marrying a Muslim man – and his son was “collateral damage”.

Despite a string of official enquiries ruling Diana and Dodi died in a tragic accident, he insists they were victims of an Establishment plot.

Jean, of Lorient, Brittany, also believe samples showing his son had alcohol in his system could have been tampered with after his death.

He said: “Diana was killed and my son was killed. I believe they were both murdered.

“My son was simply ­collateral damage of a plot to kill Diana and they killed him as well.

“The English police came here to visit me and sat exactly where you are sitting now.

“Even inside Scotland Yard there are two sides. One believes there was a secret plot to kill Diana, the other believes it was a genuine accident.”

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