Dodi hatched Dis Ritz escape plan

December 5th, 2007 - 2:02 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec 5 (ANI): Princess Dianas boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed was the brains behind the doomed plan to sneak the princess through the back door of the Ritz Hotel to evade the paparazzi, the inquests into their deaths has heard.

Thierry Rocher, night manager of the Paris hotel at the time of the princess’s death in August 1997, told the jury that unfortunately the details of the scheme, which landed Henri Paul, rather than a professional chauffeur, behind the wheel of the couples Mercedes, were revealed by Kes Wingfield, one of Fayed’s bodyguards, in front of photographers.

Rocher also revealed that it was clear that Paul, the acting head of security, was boozing that night.

Rocher described how Paul told him that he was off to finish his drink - a Ricard spirit, when he passed on a message from Dodi about the car plan to Paul.

However, he said that Pauls status and his direct relationship with the Al Fayed family stopped him from instructing Paul on drinking while on duty.

Both, the French authorities and the Metropolitan Police have ruled that the Mercedes crashed because Paul had been drinking and driving too fast.

Rocher also said that Dodi was nervous and irritated and angry about the mess the paparazzi had created with their arrival outside the hotel.

The court has earlier heard that a decoy plan was devised to trick the photographers and allow the couple to flee unhindered after they had dined.

A chauffeur-driven limousine and a Range Rover were to wait at the main entrance on the Place Vendome while a third car, driven by Henri Paul, would carry the couple by the back door on the Rue Cambon.

However, a handful of paparazzi were able to decode the secret scheme, and were already in place, able to chase the couple as they left just before 0.20am on August 31, 1997.

A few minutes later the Mercedes crashed in the Pont de lAlma Tunnel killing Dodi, Diana and Paul.

Mr al Fayed asked me why it was such a mess when we arrived downstairs at the hotel, The Sun quoted Rocher, as saying.

I explained that we had been warned too late that they were coming back so we had no time to prepare ourselves. I told him then that Mr Paul was downstairs at the Bar Vendome with the two bodyguards.

And so he told me that then, because of all that, there was a third car and I had to tell Mr Paul that there would be a third car that would leave from the Rue Cambon but the information had to remain confidential between Mr Paul, Mr al Fayed and I, he added.

Rocher told the inquest that it was then that he passed on Dodis comments about the third car before Paul returned to the bar to join Dodis two British bodyguards, Kes Wingfield and Trevor Rees.

After I had given him Dodis message he thanked me and said Im going to finish my Ricard with the Englishmen, he said.

Asked by counsel to the inquest, Nicholas Hilliard whether it was against the rules to drink on duty at the Ritz he said it was, adding: Being the safety manager he had a direct relationship with the al Fayed family so I have no comment on that. (ANI)

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