- The Washington Times - Monday, December 11, 2006

An American intelligence agency was bugging Princess Diana’s telephone on the night of her fatal car crash, according to a British newspaper’s preview of an official inquiry into her death.

The inquiry report, to be released in London on Thursday, will say that a listening device had been placed on the princess’ telephone without the approval of British intelligence services, according to an article published yesterday in the Observer.

Britain’s counterintelligence agency, MI5, told the paper it had been assured by the Americans that they found nothing of national-security interest, nor anything related to the automobile crash.

The report also is expected to debunk several persistent rumors that have circulated since the crash on Aug. 31, 1997.

Diana was not pregnant, according to the inquiry, which hypothesizes that embalming fluid could have given a false positive.

Nor was she engaged to be married to Dodi Fayed, the Harrods department store heir and her companion in the final weeks of her life. Interviews with friends of Diana and Mr. Fayed say neither had mentioned an engagement.

The cause of the fatal crash will be put down as “excessive speed” by a driver whose blood alcohol level was three times the French legal limit, several British papers reported yesterday.

The sedan, famously chased by paparazzi on motorbikes who had trailed the couple from their final meal at the Ritz-Carlton in Paris, had not been sabotaged, and other vehicles were not at fault, according to accounts of the inquiry.

Investigators found that driver Henri Paul was an informant for the French version of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which earlier that evening had paid him some $3,600 for information. Friends of Mr. Paul’s told investigators that he may have been drinking to celebrate. Mr. Paul and Mr. Fayed also died in the crash.

However, investigators seemed to find that information incidental to the accident, noting that the route through the Pont d’Alma tunnel beneath the Seine River resulted from a last-minute change of plans.

The inquiry, code-named Operation Paget, is headed by former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord John Stevens. Investigators spoke to 400 witnesses and friends and examined 20,000 official documents, according to published accounts.

The team also conducted new forensic tests, including a pregnancy test for Diana and a new blood alcohol screen for Mr. Paul.

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