The first photographer to arrive at the scene of Princess Diana fatal car crash has told how she was still alive when he got there.

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Romuald Rat opened the door to Diana’s crumpled Mercedes in Paris’ Pont d’Alma tunnel on August 31, 1997, to find her curled up in the back of the car and immediately thought she was dead.

However, he heard her groan and then shouted to other people at the scene: ‘She’s alive!’

Rat’s testimony was given to the first French police inquiry into the 1997 crash – which resulted in the deaths of Diana, her lover Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul.

He said: ‘I approached by the right back door and looked in. I believed they were all dead. I saw Dodi dislodged on the back seat his eyes half-open. The carpet was on top of Princess Diana. I tried to see if she was still living. I put the carpet over Dodi’s lower stomach because his clothes had become loose. I took Diana’s pulse. She was groaning.’

However, Rat’s evidence is likely not to be heard by the jury at the British inquest into her death as the French government have said they will not force him, or six other photographers, to give evidence if they don’t want

The photographers are not the only witnesses French officials have protected from being made to give evidence. Forensic pathologists Dominique Lecomte and Dr. Gilbert Pepin, have vital information but it is unlikely they will be forced to testify.

Lecomte conducted the post-mortem on Henri Paul, while Pepin tested his blood. Their findings that Paul was drunk are vital to the theory the crash was no
more than a tragic accident.

A source told the Daily Express: ‘We face the probability that the most important forensic experts will avoid giving evidence. How is the jury supposed to reach any reasonable and balanced conclusion when it is not allowed to see witnesses speak for themselves or have their evidence cross-examined?’