Former head of British foreign intelligence to testify at Princess Diana's inquest
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LONDON (AP) -- The former head of Britain's foreign intelligence agency said Monday he will testify that organization had nothing to do with the death of Princess Diana when he appears at her inquest later this month.
Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi died with Diana in a car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997, blames Britain's Secret Intelligence Service for killing the couple to prevent them marrying.
Sir Richard Dearlove, who was chief of the agency also known as MI6 from 1999 to 2004, said in a statement that he welcomes the opportunity to "refute the allegations of SIS involvement in the accident which led to the deaths of the Princess of Wales" and Dodi Fayed.
Dearlove, the agency's operations director at the time of Diana's death, will testify on Feb. 20, Britain's Foreign Office said.
French authorities blame the crash on driver Henri Paul, who was shown by blood tests to be over the legal limit for alcohol. Paul also died in the crash.
A British police inquiry concluded in 2006 that the three deaths were a "tragic accident" and that allegations of murder were unfounded.
The inquest into Diana's death -- required by British law when someone dies unexpectedly, violently or of unknown causes -- began last year after a 10-year delay due to exhaustive investigations by French and British police.
On Monday, Britain's former ambassador in Paris denied Al Fayed's claim that he ordered Diana's body to be embalmed to cover up a pregnancy.
"You are aware that it has been suggested that you personally ordered the embalming of the body of the Princess of Wales on the instructions of MI5 to conceal the fact that she was pregnant with Dodi's child?" asked Ian Burnett, a lawyer for the coroner.
"There is no truth in this allegation whatsoever," the former ambassador, Michael Jay, replied.
Jean Monceau, an embalmer who was called to the hospital, has said he told the British consul-general in Paris that the body should be embalmed. Other witnesses at the inquest have disputed Al Fayed's claim that Diana was pregnant when she died.
Jay also denied Al Fayed's claim that Diana's brother-in-law, Robert Fellowes, had been in Paris on the night of her death to coordinate a murder plot initiated by Prince Philip. Fellowes, who is married to Diana's sister Jane, is scheduled to testify on Tuesday.
Al Fayed was also due to testify next week, Lord Justice Scott Baker said.