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9 April 2008updated 24 Sep 2015 11:16am

Just call him Al. Class dismissed

By Staff Blogger

The jury at the inquest into the death of Diana are to be applauded for their common-sense verdict: she and her lover Dodi Fayed were unlawfully killed, not by MI6 on Prince Philip’s orders, but by a drink-driver pursued by paparazzi.

Let this now be an end to it. For almost no one has come out well from this drawn-out process which, along with the previous investigation by Lord Stevens, may cost the taxpayer up to £10m. Not the avaricious, lying butler Paul Burrell; not the great campaigning barrister Michael Mansfield, whom many feel has sullied his reputation by arguing a case that the coroner described as “demonstrably without foundation”; not the Queen’s former private secretary Lord Fellowes or the former ambassador to Paris Lord Jay; not the former intelligence chief Sir Richard Dearlove – Establishment figures all, who will have squirmed at having to answer such undignified questions in court.

It was that same Establishment that Mohamed Al Fayed so longed to be a part of, and it was his rejection by some sections of it that sowed the seeds of hatred in his heart and drives his belief in malign conspiracies. This is not to claim he is without fault – far from it. But high society was happy for him to sponsor polo matches, while snobbishly and pettily dropping the honorific “Al” and never seeing him as more than an Egyptian shopkeeper. Lessons can be learned from this tawdry spectacle, not least that the British obsession with royalty and class distinction is still alive and, alas, thriving.

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