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Sunday 24 February 2008

How sad old Fayed lost the plot

Mohamed Fayed 's imagination runs riot, and so do the tabloids, says Ruth Dudley Edwards

So last week Mohamed Fayed (the 'Al' is bogus) finally got to court to name those responsible for murdering Diana, Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul, and for the first time ever I felt a moment of sympathy for Michael Mansfield QC, probably my least favourite barrister in the whole world.

He must have felt so happy all those months ago when he was retained by Fayed to take on the British establishment, but the way the inquest is turning out, the establishment are reading the newspapers and laughing their hearts out. Two tabloids that are usually scourges of the monarchy had respectively the headlines 'I'M NOT MAD!' (the Mail) and 'IS HE OFF HIS FAYED?' (the Sun)

As we know, when you're paranoid, everything makes sense, so everything thrown at him when he gave evidence on Monday made sense to Fayed. The trouble was that although quite clearly his barrister would have wished him to say less, rather than more, Fayed was in expansive mood. Driven by grief, by enormous ego, and by a loathing of an establishment he thinks look down on him, he was determined to answer fully even the most awkward questions and explain away even the most awkward facts by making any allegation that came to mind.

Fayed knows the driver wasn't drunk, therefore the French pathologist Professor Lecomte, and toxologist, Dr Pepin, cooked the results. Why would they do that? inquired Ian Burnett QC, counsel to the inquest.

"Because they were part of a cover-up, because the French intelligence helped the British intelligence to execute the murder, and without their help, without giving all the facilities in the tunnel, switches the camera, doing everything possible to help an MI6 officer to secure the murder."

Q. "And the police?"

A. 'And the French police also."

Q. "And the French medical services, through Lecomte and Pepin?"

A. "The French intelligence and the British intelligence, they have their stooges, their agents, everywhere."

He probably did for his case just there: I can imagine no British jury thinking the French would ever do anything obliging for the English. But there were many other delights as he got in deeper and deeper in his expose of the vast shadowy network of the "Dracula family", headed by the Nazi racist Frankenstein (Prince Philip was born into the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg family).

I noticed no barrister bothered to point out that Philip fought throughout the Second World War in the Royal Navy. Fayed would merely have swept the naval establishment into the plot.

As it was, in Diana's circle alone, the murderous conspirators included her butler, her sister and brother-in-law, her best friend, Rosa Monkton, Monkton's brother and Monkton's husband, Prince Philip, Prince Charles (though not the person Fayed called his "crocodile wife"), Princes Andrew and Edward and Princess Anne (though not Queen Elizabeth, whom Fayed thinks unimportant), and her divorce lawyer.

Mansfield was curiously subdued when he questioning his client, confining himself to asking about a few innocuous letters from Diana to Fayed thanking him for various acts of generosity. Other barristers, though, had fun in a po-faced English way. Cross-examining the ex-head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, the following day, Burnett explained: "Now, you are aware, aren't you, that it is suggested that the French security apparatus and the French police and the French medical services and the French pathological services -- I think that is all of the French -- were in on a plot of some sort which would suggest, Sir Richard, that you in MI6 or Prince Philip . . . somehow could control the French state."

"Mischievous and fanciful," said Dearlove.

"Can I turn to Prince Philip? Again, so that one understands what is being suggested . . . it is that Prince Philip was in a position to direct MI6 operationally and that he did so from Balmoral Castle, with the Prince of Wales's involvement, Lord Fellowes [Queen's private secretary and Diana's brother-in-law], Lord Jay [then British ambassador in Paris], various others, and executed a conspiracy which resulted in the deaths of Dodi Al Fayed and the Princess of Wales. I am putting it simply and without any hyperbole.

"Now, it is suggested . . . that Prince Philip and the intelligence agencies really run this country and that we are not a parliamentary democracy at all. Again, I must give you an opportunity to comment on an allegation that you, as head of MI6, and no doubt your counterparts in the other agencies, are in fact running this country behind the scenes with Prince Philip."

"I do not want to be flippant," said Dearlove. "I am tempted to say I am flattered, but once again, this is such an absurd allegation. It is difficult to deal with an allegation which is so absurd. It is completely off the map."

Oh, dear. Fayed hates being laughed at. What will he do next?

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards