The father of Henri Paul, the driver who was killed alongside Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed has raised disturbing new questions about his son’s death.
In an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, Jean Paul claimed his son ejected a mystery intruder from the Ritz Hotel in Paris shortly before he drove off in the Mercedes carrying the couple.
And he said there were baffling irregularities in his son’s finances and speculated about why the police had failed to return some of Henri’s personal effects to the family.
As the inquest into Diana and Dodi’s death enters its third week, Mr Paul, 76, said: ‘We’ve had it up to here with this affair. The whole world has made an arch scapegoat of our son.
‘In my heart, though, there is a flame of hope that one day the truth will out. But I think if the truth does come out, it could spell the ruination of Great Britain.
‘They have looked constantly for a scapegoat. It was easy enough to blame the small-time French driver — my son.’
Henri Paul escorted a man from the Ritz shortly before driving the Princess of Wales and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed to their deaths, his father claimed.
He said his son was interrogating the intruder away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi.
This does not explain, however, why there is no footage of the incident on any of the Ritz’s 31 security cameras.
But it may shed light on why the inquest was told last week that not all of Paul’s movements on the night of the crash can be accounted for.
Paul, 41, who was also the Ritz Hotel’s deputy head of security, was recorded on CCTV leaving the front entrance at 10.34pm before returning again at 10.46pm. For eight-and-a-half of those minutes he vanishes from security cameras.
Mr Paul said his son was alerted to the man’s presence by a member of the hotel staff.
His claim raises questions such as: was the intruder a member of the security services whom Dodi’s father Mohamed Al Fayed maintains caused the crash, then covered up the murders?
Or was the mystery man someone Paul had planned to meet that night and who he had to pretend to throw out after being spotted by another member of staff?
Or could it have been one of the paparazzi he was seen signalling to later?
The inquest has been shown CCTV footage of Paul waving at members of the paparazzi, raising the possibility that he was being paid to tip them off about Diana’s movements.
Jean Paul is adamant that his source at the Ritz is telling the truth.
Speaking from his home in Lorient, Brittany, he said: ‘Shortly before the Mercedes left the Ritz, Henri had someone ejected from the Ritz because they were not behaving properly.
‘This man was not a customer, he was a curieux [nosy parker] and it was Henri’s job to have him ejected. Henri had this taken care of quietly. This was told to me by someone at the Ritz and there were two witnesses.
‘A report had been made to the reception desk about this man and Henri had been called in to deal with the matter.’
Mr Paul argued that this was further proof that blood tests after the crash, showing that his son was two times over the drink-drive limit when he died, were flawed. He said: ‘If Henri had been drunk, would he have been able to deal with this intruder so properly and so discreetly?
‘Do you think the staff at the Ritz would have allowed him to go about his duties?’
The inquest has been shown CCTV footage of Paul at the Ritz that night, and he shows no sign of being drunk.
One camera did reveal, however, that he drank two glasses of Ricard, which contains 45 per cent alcohol, in the hotel bar.
His father added: ‘Last week was the first time I had seen these images, the last of my son before he died.
‘It tore my heart but also gladdened my heart because these pictures showed he was not drunk. The images show Henri working. He acted smartly and looked smart. That’s the way he was.’
Questions have already been raised about how Paul, a modestly paid bachelor, came to have £170,000 stashed away in 15 different bank accounts, as well as £1,200 in his pocket on the night he died.
His former employer, the Ritz’s owner Mr Al Fayed, has claimed that the cash shows Paul was in the pay of MI6 or another foreign security service.
But his father rubbished Mr Al Fayed’s allegation and posed another intriguing question about his son’s behaviour.
Namely, why did Paul ask his parents for a small loan of £1,000 a few months before his death when he had so much money hidden away?
According to his father, Paul said he needed the cash to help him pay for the deposit on a flat he wanted to buy in Paris’s Chatelet district.
‘I was as surprised as anyone about the mysterious bank accounts and I have been hurt by the insinuations that my son was paid money by the secret services,’ said Mr Paul.
‘It doesn’t add up, because in the months leading up to his death he asked us to lend him some money to buy a flat in Paris.
‘If he had that amount of money in his bank accounts, would he have come humbly cap-in-hand to his old dad asking for a loan of about ten thousand francs [£1,000]?
‘He had found a flat he liked in the Rue Sainte Anne in the Second Arrondissement. I remember Henri actually showed us some plans, so it was a definite idea on his part. It was in the Chatelet area which was convenient for his work.
‘We inherited all the money he had. If he had known about it, would he have come asking for a loan to buy a property? No.
‘It’s another anomaly, another mystery. It doesn’t add up but a lot of things don’t add up in this case.’
Tips that Paul received while working at the Ritz are said by friends to be the reason why he had a small fortune tucked away.
His father said: ‘Of course, he often got large tips and he put the money in savings accounts. Once Madonna gave him 1,700 francs [£170] because he was part of the Ritz and he handled security. He told me about it.
‘I asked him what Madonna was like. He said she was a petit boudin — a little sausage.’
Mr Paul has spent the ten years since the crash unsuccessfully asking the French authorities to return his son’s ID card.
Mr Paul said: ‘A lot of things we have asked for have never been given to us. Henri always carried a wallet and in his wallet he had a carte d’identitÃ©. I wanted the wallet because the card was in it.
‘I wanted the photograph because I liked it. The card was never given to us and we were told that it was covered in blood.
‘We were also told that Henri had no wallet on him. I don’t believe that. We were given things like keys and small change and his watch, which was still working, but there was no wallet and that I find suspicious.
‘Maybe it was something to do with the blood on the carte d’identitÃ© — there has been much controversy about Henri’s blood.
‘We are certain that the blood which was analysed, containing excess alcohol and high levels of carbon monoxide, was someone else’s. That is why we think they do not want to give us the card.
‘Do you think Prince Charles or Mr Al Fayed were treated the same way? No.’
Mr Paul said three families had lost loved ones in the crash. Two were rich and powerful while his own was treated like ‘microbes’.
He also recalled the moment when he was told his son had died — and how he was unaware until the next day that Princess Diana had perished as well.
‘It was about 4.30am,’ said Mr Paul. ‘I got a phone call and it was someone from the Ritz. They said there had been an accident and Henri was dead. I mumbled something and I think I put the phone down, and then I told Henri’s mother Gisele.
‘At the time I was unaware that the Princess and Dodi were dead, too.
It was only the following morning when I heard the news on the radio and put two and two together that I understood what had happened.
‘You know, we have lost three of our five sons. We know all about grief. Pascal died of cancer aged just 34 and Jean-Luc died of a heart attack in 2005.’
Last night a spokesman for Mr Al Fayed said: ‘Anyone who has relevant information must bring it before the coroner so that the jury can hear it and assess it. That includes the bereaved father of Henri Paul.’
Philippe Lancelin, the spokesman for Judicial Police in Paris, said: ‘I cannot comment as the French investigation is closed.’
A spokeswoman for Operation Paget, the British police team assisting the coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker, said: ‘It would be inappropriate to comment at this stage.’