DCSIMG

A tender touch, minutes before death drive

THEY stand close together, her arm bent behind her to clasp her lover's hand. This is Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed playing out their last tender moments before getting into the car that would take them to their deaths.

Jurors at the inquest into the couple's deaths were shown the CCTV footage in full for the first time yesterday.

The images, from one of the 31 cameras at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, show the princess dressed in a dark jacket and white trousers, snuggling into Mr Fayed as they wait in the hotel's white-tiled rear service exit.

When not holding hands, he strokes her back as they whisper to one another.

During their seven-minute wait in the hotel's spartan hallway, Diana is shown standing in a distinctive pose, her head tilted slightly to the left, leaning into Mr Fayed, who is on her right.

The couple stand to one side as Henri Paul, the hotel's acting head of security, and the bodyguard Trevor Rees (formerly known as Trevor Rees-Jones) await the arrival of a Mercedes S280 saloon.

At one point, Diana playfully salutes Mr Paul as he comes to brief them on arrangements.

The footage shows aides hurriedly making arrangements to evade a large crowd of paparazzi waiting at the front.

But it also appears to show Mr Paul - who was to drive the couple that night - waving at the paparazzi just moments before they depart, appearing to signal to them that the couple were about to set off.

The CCTV footage was shot as the couple were waiting for the Mercedes to take them to Mr Fayed's Paris flat where, his family believe, he was to present Diana with an engagement ring. Instead, the most famous couple in the world were killed after the car crashed into a pillar in the Pont d'Alma tunnel, shortly after midnight on 31 August, 1997.

The inquest heard that during the two hours before the princess and Mr Fayed left the hotel, Mr Paul made five separate visits to Place Vendme, where the paparazzi were gathering. Three times, he was shown apparently talking to the photographers, the jury was told.

He was spotted smoking cigarillos on numerous occasions, with puffs of smoke seen wafting up into the air.

Lord Justice Scott Baker, the coroner, earlier told the jury at the High Court in London that Mr Paul had been heard speaking to paparazzi at the back of the Ritz, telling them not to try to catch him because they would not succeed.

Inspector Paul Carpenter, of the Metropolitan Police, said as he explained the images: "You will see Henri Paul exit into Rue Cambon, and when you watch this sequence, you will see him raise his hand as if waving to the paparazzi across the road.

"If you look at the paparazzi across the road, you will see one of them raises his camera... Jacques Langevin. What he is doing is focusing on the doorway. That is why Henri Paul waves."

Michael Mansfield, QC, for Dodi's father, Mohamed al-Fayed, questioned Mr Carpenter on whether there was any footage of Mr Paul in conversation with paparazzi at the rear exit. "Is there a frame in this period captured on CCTV in which Henri Paul, the person who ends up driving the Mercedes, speaks to members of the paparazzi in this period of time?"

Mr Carpenter replied: "No, sir."

Jurors were shown how, while Diana and Dodi were waiting at the back door, staff were attempting to fool the hordes of paparazzi at the main entrance with a two-car decoy convoy.

In the event, a handful of photographers realised what was happening and snapped the couple leaving for the last time.

An Australian tourist's seven-minute home video, also revealed in court, captured a "dummy run" of the decoy plan, which saw photographers on mopeds chasing after the two cars.

The home video shows up to 200 tourists and dozens of paparazzi gathering outside the front entrance of the hotel to catch a glimpse of the princess.

The jury watched the last grainy footage of the princess and Mr Fayed emerging from the back door, running past some roadworks and across the road into the waiting car.

Diana is seen to raise her hand to shield her face.

But despite their efforts to leave in secret, the car was immediately surrounded by Langevin and fellow photographers Serge Benhamou and Fabrice Chassery, and pursued by scooters and a 4x4 as it pulled away.

VIRTUAL REALITY EVIDENCE

AS WELL as viewing the final moments of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her lover Dodi Fayed captured on CCTV cameras in the Ritz Hotel in Paris, jurors were also shown images from the crash scene using the latest virtual reality techniques and an Australian tourist's home video.

Experts have created a sophisticated computer model of Paris's Place de l'Alma, which includes the underpass where the fatal collision happened.

The so-called "blank canvas" reconstruction will be used throughout the next six months as witnesses who were at the scene of the crash give evidence to the inquiry.

Buildings and tree-trunks are accurate to within 5cm, while the road surface itself was correct to within a range of plus or minus 1cm.

The scene could be spun around to show the view from any vantage point - from rooftops to inside the Alma tunnel itself.

The seven-minute tourist film taken by Chloe Papazahariakis depicts hordes of paparazzi congregated and visitors in the Place Vendme, outside the front entrance of the luxury hotel, shortly before midnight on 30 August, 1997.

The jury saw close-up shots of the jostling photographers, with cameras poised, ready to snatch an image of the princess and Mr Fayed.

But there is a jovial atmosphere, as tourists mingle in the crowd, chatting and laughing, and on Ms Papazahariakis's friends are seen talking directly to the camera.

One female tourist can be heard shouting "Princess Diana!".

• The CCTV footage can be viewed by following this link: clients.mediaondemand.net/judiciary/inquest/#

 
 
 

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