Diana Inquest: Former UK ambassador denies ordering embalming

LONDON (AP) -- Britain's former ambassador in Paris denied on Monday that he ordered Princess Diana's body to be embalmed, allegedly to cover up a pregnancy.

The allegation is one of many made by Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi died with Diana in car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997.

The former envoy, Michael 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.

Other witnesses at the inquest have disputed Al Fayed's claim that Diana was pregnant at the time she died, and that the embalming of her body in Paris was ordered by British security agents to erase evidence of 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," Lord Jay replied.

Burnett also asked whether Fellowes "was in Paris on the night of Aug. 30 and had commandeered the operations room in the embassy essentially to oversee and organize the murder of his sister-in-law. Was he in Paris?"

"No. He was not," Jay said.

Fellowes, who is married to Diana's sister Jane, is scheduled to testify on Tuesday. In 1997, Fellowes was private secretary to Queen Elizabeth II.

Jay confirmed that the security agencies MI5 and MI6 had representatives at the embassy in 1997, and their role was to liaise with the French authorities on counterterrorism, security issues, foreign policy intelligence and combatting drug traffic.

Al Fayed has claimed that Jay conveyed the embalming order to French magistrate Maud Morel Coujard. But she testified in November that she had not been involved in authorizing embalming, and had not spoken to anyone from the British Embassy about embalming.

Jean Monceau, an embalmer who was called to the hospital, has testified that Diana's body was not in a fit state to be seen by her ex-husband Prince Charles and French President Francois Mitterrand, who were due at the hospital to pay respects.

Monceau said he told Keith Moss, then British consul-general in Paris, that the body should be embalmed.

"He told me to do what was necessary, and it was very obvious to me that it was not possible to present the body in the state that it was," Monceau said. He said Marine Monteil, head of the Brigade Criminelle, also told him to "do what is necessary."