Diana inquest: 'Henri Paul worked for French secret
6th December 2007
Death crash: Driver Henri Paul had strong links to French police
The driver of Princess Diana's Mercedes was in regular contact with the French secret service, it was claimed.
Henri Paul, the deputy head of security at the Paris Ritz, was said to have frequently provided information on the movements of important guests at the hotel.
Operatives from the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire - France's equivalent of MI5 - would often alert him to the arrival of significant visitors so he could arrange for staff to keep an eye on them, the inquest into Diana's death was told.
Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi was killed in a car crash with Diana, is convinced the couple were murdered in an MI6-led plot on the orders of Prince Philip.
He claims Mr Paul was in the pay of spies and was acting on their orders when they died in the early hours of August 31, 1997, a few minutes after leaving the Ritz.
Claude Roulet, assistant to the president of the hotel, told the London inquest that when the French police and secret services "needed to have a look" at one of the guests they would contact Mr Paul.
Henri Paul, deputy head of security at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, was carrying £1,256 on his person at the time of the crash
He said: "They asked the security services at the Ritz to have some tips about what they did, when they came in and went out, who they met and so on.
"Police were very frequently aware of the presence of the guests, even when I didn't know who they were, and they did ask to have some inquiries about the clients."
Asked whether this was information the Ritz was happy to provide, he said: "Not happy, but had to."
Mohamed al Fayed speaks to the press. The businessman believes Diana and Dodi were killed in an MI6 plot
Mr Paul was first recommended for his job at the hotel by a police officer who was one of his best friends, the inquest heard.
Mr Roulet said it should have been the head of security who the police dealt with, but because Mr Paul had "very good contacts" with the authorities he was contacted more than his boss.
During the summer of 1997, Mr Paul was in fact the acting head of security at the hotel because of a vacancy in the department.
Under cross- examination, Mr Roulet said he would have expected Mr Paul to be in contact with the British secret services when visiting dignitaries from the UK were staying at the hotel.
Dodi picked out an £11,500 ring for Diana, the inquest heard
Mr Al Fayed has claimed Mr Paul was in the pay of security services because after his death he was found to have a string of bank accounts with assets worth £170,000, despite earning only around £1,600 a month. Mr Paul's parents have suggested the money came from tips from rich guests.
But Mr Roulet suggested the money could have come from Mr Al Fayed himself as a reward for providing personal security for members of Mr Al Fayed's family when they stayed at the hotel.
Mr Roulet also told the inquest that Dodi selected a jewel-encrusted 'engagement' ring for Diana six hours before the car crash.
He secretly picked out the 'Dis-moi Oui' (Tell Me Yes) ring from jewellery taken to his suite at the Ritz, as the princess sat unaware in the next room.
A receipt described it as an £11,500 'bague fiancaille' or 'engagement' ring. But Mr Roulet, who delivered it to Dodi, said he never heard him speak of engagement.
And he said that Dodi appeared to have chosen that ring because it was the cheapest - among others he considered was one costing £78,000 and another at £60,000.
The inquest continues.