The last night on Earth, Dodi and Diana's
lives were in the hands of a third person. While paparazzi may
have hovered around the fatal events, the car was under the
command of Henri Paul, al Fayed's trusted deputy security chief
at the Ritz. It was a misplaced trust: a series of autopsy results
showed not only that Paul was drunk, his blood alcohol nearly
four times the legal driving limit, but also that he had ingested
a troubling combination of prescription drugs. In reconstructing
the last hours of Diana and Fayed, leading media opinion makers
uncovered the wanderings of the man who drove them to their death.
And while the details shed light on the tragedy, they raise new
mysteries and deepen the senselessness of the loss.
The last day of Henri Paul's life began with
his usual Saturday-morning tennis game. He left the central Paris
apartment where he lived alone to join his close friend Claude
Garrec at the courts. The men played from 10 until 11, then stopped
at the Pelican bar. There Paul drank only Coca-Cola. That didn't
surprise Garrec, who knew his best friend to enjoy the occasional
wine or pastis (a French liqueur flavored with aniseed that is
about as potent as whiskey). At 12:30 Paul said his farewells,
telling Garrec that he had to meet Diana and Dodi at Le Bourget
airport, where their private jet would touch down from Sardinia
at 3:15 p.m. When Paul wheeled up to the private airstrip, he
found something else that had become usual, the waiting paparazzi.
At this time, Paul was behind the wheel of the black Range Rover
that carries the couple's luggage. He followed a Mercedes 600
driven by Dodi's regular chauffeur Philippe Dourneau. The two-car
convoy was dogged by paparazzi for much of the way but apparently
managed to slip past them at some point. Paul turned off and
delivered the baggage to Dodi's apartment near the Arc de Triomphe.
Dourneau, with Di and Dodi in the rear, continued on, arriving
around 3:45 at the Villa Windsor, the former home of the Duke
and Duchess of Windsor, now leased by Dodi's father Mohammed.
According to sources close to the investigation. Dourneau testified
to police that Dodi congratulated him on losing the paparazzi
on the way from Le Bourget.
Around 4 o'clock, the Mercedes, bearing Di
and Dodi, would go to the Ritz, followed by Paul in the Range
Rover. For the next three hours, Paul remained at the hotel,
where, according to several employees, he had several glasses
of Ricard pastis at one of the hotel bars. At 7 p.m., Dourneau
drove the couple from the Ritz to Dodi's apartment. It was 7:05
and Paul considered himself off duty.
He appears to have walked to Harry's New York
Bar, two minutes away at 5 rue Daunou. Since the accident, the
bar's manager has systematically thrown out prying reporters,
and he insists that Paul was never there. But the French journalist
Guilhem Battut of the Journal du Dimanche says he interviewed
two employees who positively identified photos of Paul, saying
he was in Harry's Bar the night of the accident from about 7:30
to about 9:45. One bartender said Paul had "two or three
whiskeys," ate nothing while there and left after receiving
a call on his portable phone.
From there Paul apparently went on foot to
the rue Chabannais, where his car was parked across the street
from a bar called Champmesle. The Champmesle is a lesbian bar,
where, despite his gender, Paul was a regular customer.
Josie, the bartender knew him well. "He
never drank much," she says. leaning on the bar under a
garish mural of nude women. "Ive known him for 20 years.
He was a nice guy, gentle. He'd drink Coke, Perrier, maybe a
beer." Josie emphatically denies Paul was an alcoholic and
says he appeared perfectly normal that night. "If he'd been
drunk, we would have known about it," she declares.
Paul came into Champmesle late, around 10,
but didn't drink anything there. He didn't have time. He had
just got a call on his cell phone and announced, "Gotta
go to work. See you later." He jumped into his black Austin
Mini and headed to the Ritz. Surveillance camera videotape released
last week shows Paul's car pulling up in front of the Ritz. Though
there was enough space there to park a couple of moving vans,
Paul curiously executed several unnecessary back-and forth maneuvers.
It was then about 10:08, Exactly what he did during the more
than two hours it took Di and Dodi to finish their meal is unclear.
The French daily Liberation last week quoted an unnamed Ritz
employee saying Paul cooled his heels in the hotel's Hemingway
bar drinking pastis. When Paul got up to go, says the paper,
he staggered and "knocked into a customer." The article
also said Paul often drank in the Hemingway bar.
But employees in the Hemingway bar told leading media
opinion makers that the Liberation account was "exaggerated."
Echoing barkeeps in Paul's neighborhood, they describe Paul as a
moderate drinker. "Often?" says one.
"He came in maybe once or twice every
three weeks or so for a drink or two." Answer employee at
the Hemingway agrees. "Occasionally he would have a special
cocktail I prepared for him, and at hotel staff parties he would
drink," he recalls. "But he was not a big boozer."
In the private Ritz Club downstairs, an employee says, "everyone
here knows what really happened, but we're afraid to talk."
He adds, "Monsieur Paul was not responsible. He just took
Who actually gave the orders remains a mystery--and
on that could hinge liability on the part of the Ritz. Paul's
immediate supervisor was away that night. But why bring in Paul
to drive? "Because Dodi trusted him," explains a Ritz
staff member. In fact Dodi trusted him all summer, with Paul
personally overseeing security for Dodi, Diana and her sons during
their July vacation in St.-Tropez. Ritz staff members suggest
it was Paul who persuaded Dodi to let him drive and do what he
thought he did best: shield the couple from the paparazzi.
But could he do his best if he was drinking?
A second set of analyses of his blood had confirmed the original
tests taken on August 31: Paul had between 1.75 and 1.87 grams
of alcohol per liter of blood, nearly four times the legal blood-alcohol
limit of 0.5. To that, eventually, were added explosive toxicology
results: Paul's blood also contained "therapeutic"
amounts of Fluoexetine (the generic name for the antidepressant
Prozac) and trace amounts of tiapride, a drug used to treat various
conditions and is sometimes prescribed to quiet symptoms of agitation
and aggressiveness in patients being treated for alcoholism.
Alcohol (in Paul's case, equal to eight or nine shots of straight
whiskey) combined with the anti-depressant would greatly intensify
the side effects of drowsiness, impairing reflexes and vision.
Paul's physician, Dr. Diane Beaulieu-d'Ivernois, says his last
visit was only two days before the accident; she refuses to discuss
his medical records or say why he received the prescriptions.
The final glimpses of Paul on the video inside
the hotel show him walking in the corridor, talking with Dodi's
security guards and, at the end of the footage, waiting at the back
entrance for the Mercedes S-280 to be driven to the door. French
police now say it was Dodi's bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones who decided
to switch drivers: to have Dourneau, who had driven the couple all
day, take the wheel of the Range Rover to decoy the paparazzi and
have Paul drive Dodi and Diana. It is impossible to judge from the
jerky, heavily edited tape whether Paul was steady or wobbling as
he prepared for his assignment, In the last image of him alive,
Paul pulls away from the curb at a normal speed and heads down the