Alex Constantine - February 7, 2008
Diana driver lab results 'cooked'
Tests indicating driver Henri Paul was drinking before the crash which killed Princess Diana may have been "cooked", an expert has told her inquest. Princess Diana, Dodi Al Fayed and Mr Paul died in the 1997 Paris crash.
Prof Atholl Johnston said almost identical results from samples taken from Mr Paul's body were suspicious. The pharmacologist - acting for Dodi's father, Mohamed - said a blood sample appearing to show Mr Paul had been drinking was probably "someone else's".
Results from the post-mortem suggested Mr Paul was three times over the French limit.
The most likely explanation is that it isn't Henri Paul's blood
Previously, the inquest jury was told that tests on two samples said to be of Mr Paul's blood, showed alcohol concentration readings of 1.74g and 1.75g per litre. And a vitreous humour - eyeball fluid - sample gave a reading of 1.73g when it was tested by Dr Gilbert Pepin.
Harrods owner Mr Al Fayed believes samples may have been switched at the Paris mortuary to cover up a murder plot orchestrated by intelligence services. Prof Johnston, who examined the results on behalf of Mr Al Fayed, told the court that the closeness of the readings "disturbed" him and other analysts had expressed surprise at such a finding.
The probability of getting three results so close together was one in 10,000, he said.
Coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker interjected: "What are you suggesting, that that suggests to you that the results had been cooked?"
Prof Johnston told him: "That would be my interpretation.
"We have already seen that ... Dr Pepin has used the facilities to alter the results on at least one sample we know, where he has recalculated it to get closer to what he got originally."
The jury has heard that blood samples contained high levels of carboxyhaemoglobin - 20.7% and 12.8% - which suggests exposure to carbon monoxide.
Sometimes he could drive after having drunk at the party but it was not impacting on the way he drove
Prof Johnston dismissed suggestions that this was due to an error during measuring.
"The most likely explanation is that it isn't Henri Paul's blood," he said.
Asked whether he thought that staff at the French lab had tampered with results, he replied: "I can't say anything of the sort. I just don't know, this is what the jury have to make up their minds about."
But Mr Paul had a history of drinking and driving, his best friend told the inquest. Claude Garrec said Mr Paul had a "very high" tolerance to alcohol, but was always "under control".
"Sometimes he could drive after having drunk at the party but it was not impacting on the way he drove," Mr Garrec said.
"He never had any accidents, he could always go back home and he never had any points on his licence."
Mr Garrec rejected claims by Mr Al Fayed that Mr Paul been employed by the security services, although he acknowledged that his friend contact with them through his work as acting security chief at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.
The inquest continues.