Lawyers for Harrods department store owner Mohamed al Fayed asked a coroner Wednesday to order London police to hand over all documents and interviews from a three-year investigation into the deaths of son Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana.
At a preliminary hearing ahead of an inquest into the deaths, al Fayed’s lawyer argued that holding back the material could make people suspect a cover-up.
“A lack of disclosure can be counterproductive to the effectiveness of the inquest system, give rise to unfounded suspicion that matters are being deliberately concealed by the police, (and) distract attention from the real issues,” said legal documents submitted by attorney Michael Mansfield.
Diana, 36, and boyfriend Dodi Fayed, 42, were killed along with chauffeur Henri Paul when their Mercedes crashed in the Pont d’Alma tunnel in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997. Mohamed al Fayed has long claimed the couple were the victims of a conspiracy.
Former Metropolitan Police chief John Stevens spent three years investigating the deaths, amassing thousands of pages of documents and interviewing dozens of people, including Diana’s former husband, Prince Charles.
Echoing an earlier French inquiry, Stevens concluded that Paul was drunk and lost control of the car while trying to evade photographers, causing the Mercedes to smash into a column in the tunnel.
The documents requested by Mansfield include a letter Diana wrote to her butler, Paul Burrell, expressing fears for her safety. The lawyer also asked if there were records or statements from the interview with Prince Charles.
Edmund Lawson, an attorney representing the Metropolitan Police, said expert witnesses had already been granted access to exhibits.
He said that “no reasonable request for copies of material will be refused,” but warned that a blanket request would involve masses of information, including about 300 witness statements.
The coroner, Baroness Butler-Sloss, said she intended to read the more contentious material to ensure it was appropriate for release. A decision was not expected until next week.
The full inquest is scheduled to open in October.