- LONDON, June 3 (Reuters) - British television broadcast a widely-condemned
documentary on Wednesday which alleged the driver of the car in which Princess
Diana died had been in regular contact with French and other secret services.
The programme on the ITV channel -- ``Diana: the secrets behind the crash''
-- also claimed that a former lover of the princess had been warned to
break off the relationship in a threatening telephone call from a member
of the royal family. The documentary, one of two being aired this week,
has been attacked by Prime Minister Tony Blair, media commentators and
Buckingham Palace itself. The producer of another documentary to be shown
on Channel Four on Thursday denounced Wednesday's programme as ``obscene.''
Martyn Gregory said the show was no more than propaganda for Mohamed al
Fayed, the Harrods department store tycoon whose son Dodi, Diana's lover,
died in the car crash. Intelligence expert Rupert Allason scornfully dismissed
suggestions made in the programme that the security services were involved
in Diana's death. Tests showing driver Henri Paul had been drinking heavily
and was driving at top speed to escape photographers have failed to quell
the belief held by many that Diana's death cannot have been a mere traffic
accident. The documentary said that Paul, who died in the crash with Diana
and Dodi, had high levels of carbon monoxide in his blood. There was no
indication of how this might have come about, but the programme said the
fact that video footage taken before the crash showed Paul looking fit
and well cast doubt over the other main blood test finding -- that he was
three times over the drink driving limit.
- A friend of Paul's told reporter Nicholas
Owen that the driver, who was also security manager at the Fayed-owned
Ritz, was in regular contact with French and other secret services. Paul
was said to have numerous bank accounts with deposits far larger than he
could have saved from his Ritz salary. The programme also cast doubts on
the circumstances of the fatal crash last August 31 in a road tunnel in
central Paris. Eyewitnesses said they saw a powerful motorcycle swerve
in front of Diana's car at high speed. One man, Francois Levistre, said
he saw a ``big white flash'' just before the car crashed into a pillar.
Owen suggested this could have been an anti-personnel device which would
leave its victim stunned and blinded. Rival producer Gregory denounced
Levistre as a known ``fraudster and prankster.''
- James Hewitt, with whom Diana admitted
committing adultery long before her relationship with Dodi, said in the
documentary that he had received threatening telephone calls warning him
- ``They said it was not conducive to my
health to continue the relationship,'' he said. A member of the royal family
-- not one of the immediate family -- whom he declined to name had told
him: ``Your relationship is known about. It is not supported. We cannot
be responsible for your safety and security and suggest you curtail it
- Allason described the proposition that
the security services were involved in such matters as ``not living in
the real world.'' Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the specific
points raised by the documentary but it has frequently appealed to journalists
to show sensitivity in reporting issues surrounding Diana's death because
of the effect on her two teenage sons, William and Harry.
- Blair's spokesman said the prime minister
``had made it clear that there seems to be a minor industry growing up
around conspiracy theories surrounding Diana's death and it does not help
anybody, least of all her children.'' The second documentary, to be broadcast
on Thursday, debunks such theories and attributes Diana and Dodi's death
to poor security by employees of Dodi's millionaire father. It rejects
Fayed's claim that he was privy to Diana's last words and unearths a witness
who claims to have heard Paul taunting photographers outside the Fayed-owned
Ritz Hotel in Paris with the words: ``Don't try to follow us, you'll never
catch us.'' Most British commentators have attacked Wednesday's Diana documentary
as having indirectly allowed Fayed to peddle theories which divert responsibility
from the Ritz Hotel and the Fayed family.