Operation Paget was the Metropolitan Police inquiry established in 2004 to investigate the various conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Diana, Princess of Wales on 31 August 1997. Its first report with the findings of the criminal investigation was published in 2006. The inquiry was wound up following the conclusion of the British inquest two years later, in which a jury delivered its verdict of an "unlawful killing" by chauffeur Henri Paul and the pursuing paparazzi.
The criminal investigation in the United Kingdom was initiated on 6 January 2004 when the Coroner of the Queen's Household, Michael Burgess, asked the then Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens (later Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington), to conduct enquiries into allegations of a cover-up and conspiracy: that MI6, under the orders of the Royal Family, deliberately caused the fatal car crash in Paris that killed Diana and Dodi. (See Death of Diana, Princess of Wales conspiracy theories.)
The investigation was legally necessary; once the inquest into the deaths got under way in the United Kingdom, it became apparent to the Coroner that allegations were being made that a crime had taken place on UK soil: namely, conspiracy to murder. Coroners are legally obliged to refer to the police any information or evidence that comes before them concerning a suspected or actual crime. The basis of the investigation was public statements made mainly by Dodi Fayed's father, Mohammed Al-Fayed.
The investigation initially was confined to the general premise of the alleged conspiracy, but was eventually broadened to cover every associated allegation made through the media, in legal submissions, and in formal correspondence since the crash. The level of detail of the investigation is reflected in the report's length at 832 pages which took a team of fourteen experienced police officers nearly three years to compile. Accident Investigation experts from TRL assisted the police enquiry.
Because of public interest in Diana, the Metropolitan Police decided to publish the report on the internet, although it had been drafted as an internal police document. The criminal investigation had a final cost of 3.69 million pounds (US$7.27 million).
Summary of Criminal Investigation Report
The criminal investigation report's chapter titles are:
- Chapter One- Relationship / Engagement / Pregnancy (Alleged motives for the conspiracy)
- Chapter Two- Perceived Threats to Diana, Princess of Wales
- Chapter Three- Actions of the Paparazzi in Paris
- Chapter Four- Henri Paul - Hôtel Ritz Paris Security Officer and driver of the Mercedes
- Chapter Five- CCTV / (traffic cameras) in Paris
- Chapter Six- Mercedes Car
- Chapter Seven- Blocking Vehicles / Unidentified Vehicles / Bright Flashes (The Journey to the Alma Underpass)
- Chapter Eight- Post-Crash Medical Treatment of Diana
- Chapter Nine- The Embalming of the Body of the Princess of Wales at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital
- Chapter Ten- Actions of the French Authorities
- Chapter Eleven- Actions of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office / British Embassy, Paris
- Chapter Twelve- British Authorities Actions with regard to 'Suspicious Deaths'
- Chapter Thirteen- Bodyguards of Mohamed Al Fayed (Trevor Rees-Jones, Kieran Wingfield and Reuben Murrell)
- Chapter Fourteen- ‘James’ Andanson – French Photo-journalist and owner of a White Fiat Uno
- Chapter Fifteen- Central Intelligence Agency /National Security Agency, USA
- Chapter Sixteen- The Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and the Security Service (MI5)
Conclusion of Criminal Investigation Report
Each chapter of the report concluded that all allegations made since the crash of conspiracy were without foundation and all the evidence obtained point to the deaths of Diana and Fayed as being the result of a tragic accident. The script for the 2007 television docudrama Diana: Last Days of a Princess borrowed heavily from testimony in the Paget report.
On 3 April 2007, the Deputy Coroner of the Queen's Household, Baroness Butler-Sloss, decided to grant access to the evidence collected by the criminal investigation to lawyers for Mohammed Al-Fayed to assist them in putting together their case in support of the conspiracy allegation for the inquest to begin in October 2007. On 15 May 2007, it was revealed by Baroness Butler-Sloss that the underlying material collected by the criminal investigation team runs to more than 11,000 pages when printed out and also consists of more than 1,400 photographs, several DVDs, large-sized plans and other data. The material has substantially been disclosed to the interested persons and legal teams.
The coroner's inquest opened on 2 October 2007, headed by Lord Justice Scott Baker. The opening statement was largely made up of evidence and findings in the criminal investigation report. On 7 April 2008, the jury came to the verdict that Diana and Fayed were unlawfully killed as a result of "gross negligence" of Mercedes driver Henri Paul and the paparazzi. Contributing factors cited included "the impairment of the judgment of the driver of the Mercedes [Henri Paul] through alcohol" and that none of those who died were wearing a seatbelt.
- Rayner, Gordon (7 April 2008). "Diana jury blames paparazzi and Henri Paul for her 'unlawful killing'". Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
- "Chronology - Diana's death and its aftermath". Reuters. 7 April 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- BBC News: Diana death a 'tragic accident'
- BBC News: At-a-glance: Lord Stevens' report
- "Diana police files 'to be shown'". BBC News. 3 April 2007.
- Inquests into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Mr Dodi Al Fayed: Opening statement for a Pre-Inquest Hearing, 15 May 2007
- BBC: Princess Diana unlawfully killed
- Coroner's Inquest, Hearing transcripts: Verdict of the jury