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Al-Fayed takes centre stage at Diana inquest

More than a decade after his son Dodi was killed in a Paris car crash with Princess Diana, Mohamed al-Fayed finally gets his moment in court on Monday to accuse the British royal family of ordering their deaths.
Mohamed al-Fayed arrives for the inquest into the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi al-Fayed at the High Court in London January 14, 2008. More than a decade after his son Dodi died in a car crash with Princess Diana, Fayed finally gets his moment in court on Monday to accuse the British royal family of ordering their deaths. (REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)

The owner of the Harrods luxury store says the couple were killed on the orders of Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth's husband and Diana's former father-in-law.

Al-Fayed's string of accusations -- he says the royal family could not bear the idea of the mother of the future king marrying a Muslim -- have dominated the inquest into Diana and Dodi's deaths and provoked a host of sensationalist headlines.

Diana, 36, Dodi, 42, and chauffeur Henri Paul were killed when their Mercedes limousine crashed in a road tunnel in August 1997 as they sped away from the Ritz Hotel in Paris with paparazzi in hot pursuit.

The coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker, has already outlined al-Fayed's allegations to jurors, telling them: "It's his belief that a decision was taken to kill both Diana and Dodi. He places Prince Philip at the heart of the conspiracy.

"You will have to listen carefully to the witnesses you hear to see whether there is any evidence to support this assertion," he told the jury.

French and British police investigations both concluded the crash was an accident caused by a speeding chauffeur who was drunk. They rejected al-Fayed's theory.

Under British law, an inquest is needed to determine the cause of death when someone dies unnaturally.

Al-Fayed's allegations have been disputed by a series of witnesses appearing in the ornate courtroom at London's Royal Courts of Justice since October.

They came under heavy fire last Thursday when John Macnamara, al-Fayed's head of security at the time of the crash, was asked if Prince Philip had been involved in a conspiracy. "Not to my knowledge," he replied.

Lord Stevens, the former former British police chief who conducted an inquiry into Princess Diana's death, angrily denied "scurrilous allegations" that he had not done his job properly.

Fayed has rejected the findings of the Stevens report as "garbage" and said: "There is a plan and plot against me."

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