It has taken more than 90 days, 270 witnesses and a bill of £10 million to slay the obsessive conspiracy theories of one man. And in the end yesterday, a jury discarded the soft option of accidental death and placed much of the blame for the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed on the shoulders of one of Mohamed Al Fayed’s own employees.
The Princess and Dodi were unlawfully killed by a combination of their drunk driver, Henri Paul, and the paparazzi who were chasing their car, the jury at their inquests decided.
It was a disastrous outcome for the owner of Harrods, whose allegations of a murder plot masterminded by the Duke of Edinburgh were rejected decisively by the coroner for complete lack of evidence. It was a damning indictment, too, of the pursuing photographers who must accept an equal share of the blame. Even the dead do not escape censure. The couple might have been alive today, the jury decided unanimously, had they been wearing their seatbelts.
Lord Justice Scott Baker, who presided over one of the longest and highest-profile inquests in British legal history, must hope, along with most of the population, that the verdict will close the book on a ten-year saga.