LONDON – A former London police chief said Thursday that Princess Diana would not have died in Paris if she had been willing to accept protection from British officers.
In turn, he was accused by a lawyer of being part of a conspiracy to cover up the murder of the princess and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed.
"I totally refute it as a blatant lie," said Lord Paul Condon, who headed London's Metropolitan Police from 1993 through 1999.
Condon said he pleaded with Diana to reverse her decision in December 1993 to dispense with Royal Protection officers.
Those officers continued to accompany her only when she traveled with her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.
"Let me be absolutely frank. If, as was my wish, she would have had police protection in Paris, then I'm absolutely convinced those three lives would not have been tragically lost," Condon told a coroner's inquest.
Diana, boyfriend Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul all died in the crash in a Paris road tunnel on Aug. 31, 1997.
Fayed's father, Mohamed Al Fayed, has alleged that the couple were murdered in a plot led by Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.
British and French police blame the crash on the driver, saying he was over the legal limit for alcohol.
Michael Mansfield, a lawyer for al Fayed, suggested that after Diana's death, Condon had suppressed information about her fears of dying in an arranged car crash.
"You were sitting on it knowing that something had gone wrong in Paris linked to the work of British state agencies," Mansfield said.
"You are suggesting, are you, that Lord Condon was part of a criminal conspiracy?" asked the coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker.
"Yes," Mansfield said.
"What you are suggesting, I find — and I respect why you are saying it, sir, because that's what you are paid to do and that is what your client wishes you to do — but I find the suggestion ... totally abhorrent, offensive and would actually mean that I am a murderer or, in essence, part of a murderous conspiracy," Condon said.
"My whole life has been committed to telling the truth in these sort of issues and I can swear on oath to the jury that is a blatant lie," Condon added.
Condon said there were several meetings about Diana's security in December 1993 and January 1994. However, Condon said he was off work for nearly four weeks during that period because he had been injured in a serious auto accident.
"I have often thought back: If that had not been the sequence of events, I might have demanded face-to-face meetings with her," Condon said. "But I honestly don't think it would have changed her mind."
Private security officers accompanied Diana and Fayed in Paris.
Mansfield suggested that Diana did not trust the police.
"Clearly, she had decided in her own mind, sadly, that the police — if they were on anyone's side — were not on her side," Condon said.
"That was wrong, but I think it was a view that I think I would have found it very hard to change her mind about."