Al Fayed’s Day(s) in Court

Filed under: Just For Fun |

Stephen Glover

Appalling showman he may be, but Al Fayed has done us all a favour


Occasionally I still feel proud to be British.I experienced one such moment when I heard reports of Mohamed Al Fayed’s performance at the inquests of his son Dodi and Diana, Princess of Wales, at the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday.

Until then I had taken the view that the inquest is a costly process that has caused needless pain to several innocent people, not least the Princess’s sons, and is propagating lunatic conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact.

Moreover, I had thought that, whatever the outcome of the inquest, the conspiracy theorists will never rest, and will continue circulating their madnesses until the end of time.

Monday changed my mind.

There is probably not another country in the world in which Mr Al Fayed would be allowed to say such things – to accuse the Duke of Edinburgh of being a Nazi and a murderer, and to implicate the entire British and French Establishments along with a cast of hundreds, if not thousands, in a plot to kill Diana.

But whereas many people will say that it is ridiculous to give Mr Al Fayed a podium from which he can declaim his wholly unsubstantiated allegations, I am now glad that he was given the opportunity.

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For he is a leader of a cause – the cause being that Diana was bumped off.

Not everyone who believes this is necessarily totally crazy, and I admit there was a time when I almost came to sympathise with it myself.

On Monday, though, this cause collapsed in a most spectacular manner as its chief and most influential proponent unveiled it in all its magnificent implausibility.

I was somehow reminded of one of those scenes when a man attached to flimsy-looking paper wings stands on a bridge, convincing onlookers despite their good sense that he is about to achieve the wonders of flight, and then plunges into the river like a stone.

I say this without having any animus whatsoever against Mr Al Fayed.

We must never forget he lost a son, and has lived with the anguish ever since.

It is also impossible not to admire the vividness of some of his expressions.

Some of us will have smiled, a little ungallantly perhaps, at his calling Camilla Parker Bowles (as she was) a “crocodile”.

His suggestion that the Duke of Edinburgh’s family name “ends with Frankenstein” also made me laugh.

As well as being a grief-stricken father, Mr Al Fayed is a brilliant showman with fine comic touches.

He even began his tirade by saying that he was not going to make any allegations, thereby instantly lowering the spirits of all the assembled journalists, lawyers and inhabitants of the public gallery.

Allegations then flew out of him like sparks from a furnace.

The point about these allegations is that they implicate so many people from so many different walks of life as to be utterly incredible.

Apart from the “Nazi” Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles, there is Tony Blair and (probably) the then Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, MI6, the British Ambassador in Paris, the French ambulance service, the French security service, various doctors, the chauffeur Henri Paul, Diana’s brotherinlaw Lord Fellowes, the CIA, and others too numerous to mention.

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Then there are those allegedly involved in a cover-up.

These include Herve Stephan, the French judge who conducted an inquiry in Paris; the former Metropolitan Commissioners, Lord Stevens and Lord Condon; Diana’s sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale; and the Princess’s lawyer, the late Lord Mischon.

Between them, so Mr Al Fayed, claimed, they suppressed a vital piece of paper, bearing the Princess’s initials, which would have corroborated his story.

In the entire history of the world there has never been a plot to murder someone involving so many people.

As Mr Al Fayed describes it, this was not so much a plot as a mass movement.

Some may object that he should have limited his cast of conspirators to more manageable numbers, but of course he could not do this.

Mr Al Fayed is obliged to implicate everyone for his theory to have the status of a theory.

Everybody has to be involved, like bees in a hive, each working tirelessly towards the same end.

His problem is that his theory then collapses under the weight of its own preposterous contradictions.

For while we might conceivably credit a plot involving three or four players, one necessitating the collusion of hundreds of people in several countries is beyond the reach of reason.

That is why I am so glad Mr Al Fayed had his day in court.

He has done us all a great service by demonstrating the sheer impossibility of his theory which, until Monday, he had never adumbrated at such length.

In his view of things, thousands of people are implicated: even a stray BBC reporter outside the Royal Courts of Justice was publicly accused by him of being an MI6 toady.

No doubt he will say I am one – and you too, if you agree with what I say.

I accept that there are some victims of this generally beneficial process.

Diana’s sister and her brother-in-law cannot enjoy the suggestion that they were party to a conspiracy to murder.

I imagine Prince Charles may well be annoyed or upset by the allegations against him – though I hope the Duke of Edinburgh is more amused than he is angry.

Then there are the people who were only doing their jobs properly – doctors and ambulancemen, for example -who will not relish being accused of being part of a murder plot.

MI6 is understandably irritated, as was shown yesterday by the intervention of its former director-general, Sir Richard Dearlove, who dismissed Mr Al Fayed’s allegations.

MI6 operatives and their families who have been identified by Mr Al Fayed could conceivably have been put at risk.

All this is unfortunate, but it is a price worth paying if the suggestion that Diana, Princess of Wales was murdered by the British and French Establishments has at last been put to rest.

There will always be a hardcore of fanatics who will continue to believe that she was killed – just as there are a few people who maintain the world is flat – but after Mr Al Fayed’s evidence on Monday, it will surely no longer be possible for those who pride themselves on their rationality to continue to believe that Diana was murdered in the way he described.

As for Mr Al Fayed, he will probably cling to his theories until the moment he dies.

I am afraid I still think what I thought in the week after Diana’s death – that if any one living individual bears a responsibility for her death it is Mr Al Fayed, in whose care she was supposed to be.

He should have ensured that she was not driven at breakneck speeds across Paris by a drunk.

His failure of care, though, is far less serious than the appalling allegations of murder which he has made against so many people.

What one can say in his defence is that he has paid for it with the death of his son – and that is enough of a blow to drive anybody mad.

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