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Archive for Friday, December 21, 2007

Bartender to court: Princess Diana’s driver was drunk, ‘walking like a clown’

December 21, 2007

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— Princess Diana's driver was drunk the night she and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, died in a car crash in Paris, a bartender told the court investigating the princess' death.

Henri Paul was visibly inebriated and walking unsteadily as he left the bar at the Ritz Hotel in Paris the night of the crash, Alain Willaumez told the inquest into Diana's death.

"His eyes were brilliant, his eyes were wide open and he was visibly looking in abnormal condition," Willaumez said, noting that Paul bumped into a member of the hotel staff as he was leaving.

"He had not a precise and accurate walk. He was walking like a clown, a little bit like a clown," he said.

Diana and Fayed died on Aug. 31, 1997, after Paul lost control in the Pont d'Alma tunnel, colliding with a pillar. French and British police both concluded that he had double the legal limit of alcohol in his blood and lost control of the car as it raced ahead of pursuing photographers.

But Fayed's father, Mohamed al Fayed, claims Paul was a paid informer for French and British intelligence. He disputes that Paul was drunk and claims the blood tests were faked.

Security camera footage seen by the court shows Paul walking down the stairs and tying his shoelaces, with no apparent indication that his movements were affected by alcohol. Other witnesses also describe Paul behaving normally.

He is the latest witness to describe Paul acting irresponsibly. On Tuesday, a witness described Paul, the acting head of security at the Ritz, as "driving like a maniac" on the trip from the airport. Another witness later described Paul's driving as "fast and furious."

Willaumez did not mention Paul's apparent drunkenness in the statement he gave to police about a week after the crash. He told the court he had been told by Franz Klein, the president of the Ritz hotel, to tell police Paul had some fruit juice and showed no signs of being drunk. He said he complied because he did not want to put pressure on his boss and out of a desire not to say anything bad about Paul.

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