No paparazzi conspiracy to kill Diana - and journalists deny she wanted to marry Dodi

The Stevens report into the death of Princess Diana provides a fascinating insight into the relationship she had with the media.

And while not ruling out "recklessness" on the part of paparazzi photographers on the night she died, in 1997, it does rule out them playing any part in a criminal conspiracy.

Among those interviewed as part of Stevens inquiry was Daily Mail journalist Richard Kay, who spoke to Diana the day before she died.

He said: “On the 30th August 1997 about 6pm – 6.30pm English time, I was out shopping in Knightsbridge, my mobile phone rang and it was Diana. This was on the same mobile
number as I use now. I remember going to sit in my car and we talked for about twenty
minutes.

“… It was a social call, part social and part to find out what was going on in the Press.
The Princess of Wales dreaded the Sunday papers coming out. She was asking what was
likely to be in the Sunday papers.”

Regarding suggestions that she was then engaged to Dodi Al Fayed, he said: “She did not tell me she was engaged or about to get married, or anything about a ring.

“If she had been engaged or given an engagement ring, there is a strong possibility that
she would have raised it with me. Not least because she would have wanted to know how
the media would handle it, but also because I was a friend. I remember a telephone
conversation in early August 1997, we spoke about whether she was going to get
married.

"She said 'Absolutely not. I’ve just got out of one marriage and I’m not going
to get involved in another one'. This may have been during her holiday with Rosa
Monckton or during one of her other French trips.”

Another journalist to insist that Diana was not planning to marry Dodi was Taki Theodoracopulos – a columnist with the Spectator.

He said: “‘During August 1997 the newspapers were full of the relationship between Diana and Dodi and this was a talking point.

"On Tuesday 12 August 1997 I was on holiday and relaxing with journalist friends Charles Benson and Nigel Dempster and we were discussing the relationship and how we thought it might progress.

"In the spirit of the moment I telephoned Kensington Palace and was put through to Diana. I recall asking her ‘Will you be wearing a chador any time soon?’; a question that we both knew to mean would she be getting married soon.

"Her reply was ‘No’. Due to the open and frank nature of our relationship I am sure that this was a genuine response."

The report refutes that paparazzi were “knowingly or unknowingly” involved in a criminal conspiracy to murder the Diana and Dodi.

But it does not assess whether they recklessly caused the crash. This, Stevens said, will be a matter for the Coroner in the forthcoming inquest.

He said: “Eyewitness accounts described motorcycle(s) and/or car(s) near to the Mercedes as it
approached and entered the Alma underpass. These accounts were neither wholly
consistent nor corroborative.

"Eyewitness accounts in rapid scenarios such as this will
inevitably contain contradictions. The weight of evidence showed that vehicles did
leave the scene of the crash and some appear to be still unidentified. They may or may
not have been paparazzi.

"There is no evidence that others took advantage of an environment created by the
paparazzi. Neither is there evidence that any of the paparazzi, independently or in
collusion with others, undertook actions in order to create an environment that
allowed others to put into operation a plan to murder the Princess of Wales and Dodi
Al Fayed.”

Speaking about the night of the crash, Dodi’s bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones “recalled
stopping at a set of traffic lights he believed to be in Place de la Concorde.

"There he
turned to look out of the rear window and saw a motorcycle stationary on the right
hand side of the Mercedes. When the Mercedes moved off he recalled lots of flashes,
which he presumed to be from photographers.

“The second memory he recalled was very vague and was, he believed, post collision.
He remembered ‘total confusion’ and that a female voice spoke the name ‘Dodi’.

“He was unsure who spoke the name but concluded that if only the occupants of the car
were present then it must have been the Princess of Wales. He stated that the
memories were vague and that he sometimes doubted them but they were coming
back repeatedly. He stated that his psychiatrist had warned him of the danger of false
memories.”

Mohamed Al Fayed has claimed that photographer James Andanson was
present in Paris during the evening of Saturday 30 August 1997 driving his white Fiat
Uno car and has inferred that his presence there was part of an orchestrated plan.

Al Fayed has also claimed that Andanson was working for the Secret
Intelligence Service (SIS) in the United Kingdom, or some other ‘Security Service’.
In relation to the death of Andanson in May 2000, Al Fayed claims
that he was murdered by intelligence or security services or
that if Andanson was not murdered, then he must have committed suicide
because his conscience was troubled by the part he played in the deaths of the Diana and Dodi.

The report refutes this saying: “The evidence shows that James Andanson was not in Paris on 30 August 1997 or outside the Ritz Hotel on the night of 30 August 1997.

“James Andanson did own a white Fiat Uno at the time of the crash. There is no
evidence that this car was in Paris on Saturday 30 August 1997. The weight of
evidence supports the fact that it was at James Andanson’s home, 170 miles south of
Paris.

“There is no evidence at all that James Andanson worked for the French security
services.

“The enquiries conducted at the time satisfied the French investigation that James
Andanson and his Fiat Uno were not implicated in this case.”

Sign up for our free weekly digital magazine, Press Gazette Journalism Weekly, and daily newsletter
To contact Press Gazette with a story call 0207 936 6433
or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk
To advertise, please call 0207 936 6764.