Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Stevens is to be quizzed for the Diana inquest over alleged “gross discrepancies” relating to whether the driver in the case was drunk.
Lawyers for Henri Paul’s family called today for the ex-Scotland Yard chief, who headed the Operation Paget investigation into the crash, to become a witness.
At a preliminary hearing at the High Court, Richard Keen QC said that Lord Stevens told Mr Paul’s parents in November 2006 that their son was not drunk at the time of the crash.
But that a month later, the Operation Paget report was published, concluding that Mr Paul was three times the legal French alcohol limit.
The chauffeur was said to have been drinking on the night that Diana and Dodi Fayed died in August 1997. He was also said to have been driving at high speed.
Coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker confirmed that Lord Stevens would be asked at this stage about the matter prior to a decision being made about whether he would be a witness.
“I take your point about the discrepancy about what Stevens says and what Paget says and that will be looked in to and the results supplied in due course,” he said.
He said: “It’s always been in my mind that Lord Stevens is in the category of possible witness.”
He added: “Lord Stevens will be asked about it at the first stage to draw his attention to it and find out what he has to say about it.”
Lord Justice Scott Baker said it was too early discuss whether Lord Stevens would definitely be a witness, but added: “I’m not going to push this under the carpet.”
Mr Keen QC told the court: “What we need to know is why is there such a gross discrepancy between what he was saying on the 8th November and between what was published on 14th December?”
“It’s my submission that Lord Stevens should be required to give evidence as a witness at the inquest.”
He ruled out that Lord Stevens had lied to Mr Paul’s parents, but said that an alternative was that “between 8 November and the publication of the report the conclusion of the report was materially altered so as to attribute the cause of the crash to the gross drunkenness of Henri Paul”.
Mr Keen described Mr Paul as “a convenient scapegoat”.
Edmund Lawson QC, for the Metropolitan Police, said, after Mr Keen had called for Lord Stevens to be a witness: “I’m not going to rise to the bait thrown by Mr Keen in that extraordinary outburst.
“If Lord Stevens is required to assist, Lord Stevens will assist.”