- The chauffeur who crashed the car in which Princess Diana
died received almost A$180,000 [US$142,000] in the weeks leading up to
- The mystery payments to Henri Paul, who also died in
the 1997 Paris tunnel car crash, dwarfed his annual A$47,000 [US$38,000]
salary as a driver.
- The payments -- mostly from British banks -- were discovered
by auditors assisting the UK investigation into Diana's death.
- The revelations will fuel conspiracy theories that Mr
Paul was being paid by British spymasters -- an allegation first raised
by an ex-MI6 agent shortly after the crash.
- Mr Paul was already known to have built up a small fortune
in a global network of 13 separate bank accounts.
- This was despite his modest salary as a driver at the
Ritz, owned by Mohamed Al Fayed, retail tycoon and father of Diana's boyfriend,
Dodi, who died with her.
- The new findings are the first evidence Mr Paul received
payments directly from Britain.
- "The money arrived via a banker's draft and was
converted into French francs from sterling," a source "close
to the investigation" told Britain's Daily Express.
- The British link was discovered only with new financial
search powers granted in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks
on the US.
- The new laws allow finance police to probe almost any
account in the world -- impossible during the initial crash investigations.
- Claims that Mr Paul was in the pay of British spymasters
were first raised by renegade former MI6 spy Richard Tomlinson, who said
the French driver was paid for supplying Britain's intelligence service
with gossip about Ritz guests.
- Mr Al Fayed has led conspiracy theories suggesting MI6,
working for the royals, arranged for Diana's murder by presenting the Paris
crash as an accident.
- The Daily Express has largely acted as a conduit for
the theories of Mr Al Fayed, who owns London's Harrods.
- It is also understood French police have reopened investigations
into Mr Paul's blood sample amid continuing allegations that it was swapped.
- The sample provided to police indicated Mr Paul was high
on a cocktail of drink and drugs at the time of the crash.
- The complexity of the money trail has delayed the investigation's
scheduled conclusion from December last year to next January.
- The Scotland Yard investigation, led by former British
police chief Sir John Stevens, will precede the official British inquest
- © Herald and Weekly Times