LONDON – The night security manager at the Ritz Hotel in Paris told an inquest Monday that he questioned a decision to have acting security chief Henri Paul — not a regular chauffeur — drive Princess Diana and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, the night they died.
Francois Tendil told jurors investigating the couple's death that he saw no sign Paul had been drinking that night, although blood tests have indicated he was well over the limit.
Tendil said he learned that Paul, the Ritz's acting security chief, would be the driver shortly before Paul set off.
"My reaction was that it was not his duty to do so because we had drivers in the hotel," Tendil said.
He said Paul made no response.
Paul, Diana and Fayed died after their Mercedes crashed in a Paris tunnel in August 1997.
Tendil said the plan to have Paul step in as the princess' driver was devised because of the swarm of paparazzi following the couple.
"Due to the situation and what Dodi could see in front of the hotel, he decided at the last minute that Henri Paul could drive the car," Tendil said.
"And the bodyguards did agree. Everybody agreed that, I would like to record that."
Philippe Dorneau, who drove the couple from the airport into Paris earlier in the day, said it was Fayed's first experience of mass attention from photographers.
"They were everywhere," he said. "I started to drive and there were motorcycles everywhere, I remember that — on the pavement, on the road, everywhere."
He described the photographers as being "in no mood for nonsense" and "highly motivated."
Dorneau said Fayed became "mad, angry and annoyed" and at one point, the princess had to calm him down, he said.
The driver described Paul as "perky and chatty" that night but he did not have the impression that Paul was drunk.
Richard Horwell, a lawyer for London's Metropolitan Police, asked Dorneau: "From everything that you had seen that evening, particularly the behavior of the paparazzi ... did you conclude that if the paparazzi had not been there that night, nothing would have happened?"
"Exactly," Dorneau said.