Conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories

An inquest has just decided that Diana, Princess of Wales, and her companion Dodi al-Fayed, were “unlawfully killed” ten years ago. Dodi’s father, Mohammed al-Fayed, owner of Harrod’s, has managed the clever trick of both expressing the sentiment that the verdict will come as a blow to all those who, like him, believe they were murdered, and also claiming the verdict proved him right.

This, of course, comes after that other bizarre court case, the one in which Heather Mills said that she was a victim of rough justice while maintaining that she’d won her case.

I don’t know what it is about the rich and famous these days, but those two seem completely off their chumps. Al-Fayed’s, er, strange conspiracy theory has the United Kingdom run by Prince Philip and the secret services, who employ stuntmen so skilled that they can reliably cause a Mercedes 280S to ram a pillar at exactly the right angle to fatally injure most of its occupants. This is a big car equipped with all the safety systems you can imagine; had it hit at a slightly different angle, the occupants would almost certainly still be alive today.

Possibly al-Fayed was still smarting from Prince Philip’s decision in 2001 to remove his warrant from Harrod’s (you know: those fancy coats of arms with the words “By Appointment to H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh”). Or maybe he just failed to get his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Then again, this is just as likely to be exactly the kind of muddled thinking you’d expect from a man who would commission a sculpture symbolising the Holy Spirit as an albatross.

The verdict, of course, was “unlawful killing”. This was an inquest, so it wasn’t not up to the jury to say whether it was murder, manslaughter or what. The verdict simply means that the victims died as a result of laws being broken: specifically, in this case, their driver was drunk and the other cars on the road were driving recklessly. Whether this was deliberate or not would be for a criminal trial to decide, but as this happened in France, the British authorities have no powers to prosecute anyone.

In al-Fayed’s mind, of course, those other cars were driven by members of the British secret services. In everybody else’s mind — and very possibly in the real world most of us inhabit at least some of the time — those other cars were full of paparazzi.

In any case, it was both disturbing and amusing to hear Mr al-Fayed, speaking through his lawyer, simultaneously accepting and rejecting the jury’s verdict. Almost as disturbing and amusing as seeing Heather Mills rant incoherently about the British justice system.

I think the two of them are a match made in heaven. Britain’s least popular immigrant and Britain’s least popular charity worker. They ought to get married. That, at least, would tempt me to read the gossip columns.