Driver Henri Paul and paparazzi share the blame for the manslaughter of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed, the jury at their inquest has concluded.
The panel returned joint verdicts of unlawful killing through grossly negligent driving – or gross negligence manslaughter – 10-and-a-half years after the Paris crash in which Diana, Mr Fayed and Mr Paul died.
The jury also specified that Mr Paul’s drink-driving and the fact that neither Mr Fayed nor Diana were wearing seatbelts contributed to their deaths.
There was laughter in court as the coroner rose to leave before turning around to tell the jury that they would be excused jury service for the rest of their lives.
He thanked them for their “considerable devotion” to duty over the past six months and said it was “almost astonishing” that they had been present on every day without having any absences. The inquest has been sitting for 93 days.
After sitting through evidence from 278 witnesses from across the world, the jury of six women and five men took four days to reach the majority decisions.
The three were killed when Mr Paul crashed a hired Mercedes into a pillar in the Alma underpass in Paris in the early hours of August 31 1997.
The jury heard compelling evidence that he had been drinking that night and was driving at twice the speed limit for the road when he crashed.
But they also concluded that the photographers and their drivers were recklessly “racing” the Mercedes and drove so close to it that Mr Paul had no freedom to move.
The combined manslaughter verdict represents an emphatic rejection of conspiracy theories promoted by Mr Paul’s employer Mohamed al Fayed.