‘MI6 team in Paris at time of Diana crash’

An MI6 team was operating at the British Embassy in Paris at the time of Princess Diana’s death, her inquest has heard.

But former ambassador Lord Jay told the High Court hearing he had no reason to believe their presence had anything to do with Diana’s death in a car crash in the French capital.

Lord Jay – then known as Sir Michael Jay – said that the first he was even aware of her presence in Paris was when he was awoken with news of the crash just over an hour after the smash in the early hours of August 31, 1997.

Mohamed al Fayed, whose son Dodi Fayed was also killed in the Alma Tunnel, is convinced the crash was staged as part of an MI6 murder plot to eliminate the couple to prevent them marrying.

Mr al Fayed believes spies based at the Embassy were operating at the behest of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Asked by counsel to the inquest Ian Burnett whether the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) – better known as MI6 – had a presence at the Embassy in 1997 he confirmed that it had.

He added that there had also been a representative of the Security Service MI5 working there at the time.

He agreed with a passage from his earlier police statement which said: “There was such a team at the British Embassy in Paris staffed by members of the Secret Intelligence Service and one member of the Security Service.”

He explained: “It’s to liaise with the French authorities on issues such as counter terrorism, anti-drugs work, security issues and to share intelligence on matters of foreign policy.”

Asked if he had to be kept informed about MI6 operations in Paris he said: “Yes, if it had been a major operation which was likely to raise particular sensitivities then I would expect to have been told.”

Mr Burnett continued: “You have indicated that you would have been aware of anything significant going on, was there anything significant going on of which you were aware?”

He replied: “No”.

Mr Burnett said: “You are aware that it has been suggested that you personally ordered the embalming of the body of the Princess of Wales on the instructions of MI5 to conceal the fact that she was pregnant with Dodi’s child.”

Lord Jay replied: “There is no truth in this allegation whatsoever.”

Mr Burnett: “It has also been suggested that Lord Fellowes, who was at the time the Queen’s private secretary and also a brother-in-law of the Princess of Wales, was in Paris on the night of August 30 and had commandeered the operations room in the Embassy essentially to oversee and organise the murder of his sister-in-law. Was he in Paris?”

Lord Jay: “No. He was not.”

Earlier, the inquest heard that Mr Fayed had hinted that he and Diana were engaged.

Just days before the fatal crash, the 42-year-old rang his father’s legal adviser, Stuart Benson, to tell him he had “very exciting news”, which the lawyer interpreted to mean that the couple had decided to get married.

No other details were given during the brief call made as Mr Fayed and the Princess cruised around the Mediterranean on a luxury yacht.

But Mr Benson was asked if he was free the following Monday to discuss issues arising from the news.

The inquest has already heard that a ring was bought for the royal by Mr Fayed at the Repossi jewellers hours before their deaths on August 31, 1997.

© Independent Television News Limited 2008.