What really happened with Princess Diana? A newly-published book, featuring the first-ever interview with the man driving the white Fiat Uno that clipped Di's car before her fatal 1997 car crash in Paris, claims to be "the definitive account and evidence that proves what really happened" 22 years ago.
In Diana: Case Solved by journalist Dylan Howard and former cop Colin McLaren, out now, the co-authors sit down with Le Van Thanh for his first-ever interview on the subject, despite multiple requests over the years to share what he knows from that fateful night.
Below is an exclusive excerpt from the final chapter of Diana: Case Solved, available only on AOL.
"That's why I let them think what they want."
Of all the words spoken by Le Van Thanh during our confrontation with him, these are the ones that most haunt me personally.
Van Thanh knows he is a pawn. He knows that there are powerful forces capable of destroying his life. And he is not insane.
In this simple line quoted above, Le Van Thanh is telling us that he cannot do other than what he has done. He must allow the public to believe what they will, because the alternative is unthinkably dangerous.
Will he be killed for speaking the truth? Will his family? Will he find himself the victim of an "accident" just like Diana's?
All of these are clear possibilities.
It is also outrageous that a man should be telling us - pleading with us, really - to understand his situation in a certain way... and to have the institutions of the world turn a deaf ear.
Even if Le Van Thanh wished to tell us the truth, he feels that he cannot. Surely this fuel demands for a new inquest to be opened on the tragic death of Princess Diana.
That is exactly the feelings of Mohamed Al-Fayed, who through his lawyer, Michael Mansfield QC, told our investigation that if it can now be shown Le Van Thanh was driving the white Fiat Uno, there is a genuine case to be made to reopen the inquest:
There is a real question mark here because the French authorities were particularly anxious to ensure that it was blamed to the paparazzi.
That's why they were all arrested to begin with. He (Le Van Thanh) had the car resprayed. It is very suspicious.
If it's him in the tunnel - if it's his Fiat - whether it was an accident or whether he was trying to get in the way. I have no idea.
The Mercedes obviously did hit the Fiat. Whether that was an accident by the driver driving too fast into the tunnel or whether the Fiat Uno was in the wrong lane, I can't take it beyond that. I don't know what part the Fiat Uno played other than it obviously had a role as a vehicle that was there. But whether the driver did this deliberately or not, and what his background is, and why, all the rest of these other questions are in the same league as the [James] Andanson story.
Witnesses have said it. It's not contrived. That's the concrete evidence. . . . What I'm more interested in is the sandwiching of the car. There are other drivers out there that have not been traced.
Likewise, former BBC royal correspondent Michael D. Cole (who after leaving the BBC, worked as director of public affairs for Harrods, and thus also as a spokesman for its owner Mohamed Al-Fayed) suggests our remarkable interview with Le Van Than should be passed to British and French authorities as part of a formal request to reopen the Diana inquest as a cold case inquiry.
As a matter of urgency, this information should be conveyed to an officer of the court. If it is reported to the French police or the British police, then there will be the temptation, or the possibility anyway, that somehow the information will be buried.
But first of all, Mohamed Al-Fayed needs to know about it, and then the proper authorities need to know about it, and then, given the possibility that this gentleman will actually make an affidavit, make a sworn statement, as to what happened to him twenty-one years ago, nearly twenty-two years ago, then other people than me can make a
judgment about what to do.
But it certainly is prima facie cause for a new thoroughgoing look at what went on, because if this was going on, what else was going on?
Mohamed himself declined to be interviewed but through another spokesperson wrote a letter stating:
First, he [Mohamed] thanks you for giving him this opportunity to speak again on this subject and for couching your invitation in such pleasant and sympathetic terms. Second, he hopes he may decline your invitation in a similarly polite way without causing offence. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Al-Fayed spends his precious time with his family and therefore is not minded to submit to further interviews upon this very difficult subject for him and his whole family.
Yet there will always be those who simply wish the matter were closed. Many feel that opening an inquiry will do more harm than good. Those who take this position usually do so on the grounds that those involved have "suffered enough."
Take for example, the words of Tiggy Legge-Bourke, nanny and companion to Prince William and his brother Prince Harry and a personal assistant to Prince Charles between 1993 and 1999: "I think it's extremely hard on both the dukes. I wish everybody would just be quiet and let it all go to sleep," she reluctantly said when contacted for this book.
One can, perhaps, not entirely fault Leggy-Bourke. After all, it is very human to wish for unpleasant truths and disruptive secrets to simply "go away".
But that is what we cannot do.