LONDON – Princess Diana's driver was drunk the night he drove her and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed into a fatal car crash in Paris, a barman told the court investigating the princess' death.
Henri Paul was visibly inebriated and walking unsteadily as he left the bar at the Ritz Hotel in Paris the night of the crash, barman Alain Willaumez told the inquest into her death.
"His eyes were brilliant, his eyes were wide open and he was visibly looking in abnormal condition," Willaumez said, noting that Paul bumped into a member of staff as he was leaving.
"He had not a precise and accurate walk. He was walking like a clown, a little bit like a clown," he said.
Diana and Dodi died on Aug. 31, 1997, after Paul lost control in the Pont d'Alma tunnel, colliding with a pillar. French and British police both concluded that he had double the legal limit of alcohol in his blood and lost control of the car as it raced ahead of pursuing photographers.
But Fayed's father, Mohamed al Fayed, claims Paul was a paid informer for French and British intelligence services. He disputes that Paul was drunk and claims the blood tests were faked.
Security camera footage seen by the court shows Paul walking down the stairs and tying his shoelaces, with no apparent indication that his movements were affected by alcohol. Other witnesses also describe Paul behaving normally.
Willaumez noted that there was no camera in the bar to catch Paul knocking into his colleague.
He is the latest witness to describe Paul acting irresponsibly. On Tuesday, a witness described Paul, the acting head of security at the Ritz, as "driving like a maniac" on the trip from airport. Another witness later described Paul's driving as "fast and furious."
Willaumez did not mention Paul's apparent drunkenness in the statement he gave to police about a week after the crash. He told the court he had been told by Franz Klein, the president of the Ritz hotel, to tell police Paul had some fruit juice and show no signs of being drunk. He said he complied with Klein's request because he did not want to put pressure on his boss and out of a desire not to say anything bad about Paul.
"I did not say anything because, poor guy — the poor people who died in this accident. If I had spoken at that time, I would have put more pressure on him and I did not want to feel naughty towards Mr. Paul."