Princess Diana and her lover Dodi Fayed were unlawfully killed due to the “gross negligence” of driver Henri Paul and the pursuing paparazzi, their inquest has ruled.

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The jury of six women and five men concluded the couple died because Paul – who was also killed in the Paris car crash on August 31, 1997 – was drunk behind the wheel of the car, the following vehicles were driving recklessly and they were not wearing seatbelts.

The foreman announced the majority verdict at London’s High Court yesterday, saying: “The verdict is unlawful killing, grossly negligent driving of the following vehicles and of the Mercedes.

“The crash was caused or contributed to by the driving of the Mercedes, the driving of the following vehicles, the impairment of judgment of the driver of the Mercedes through alcohol and there are nine of us who agree on that.

“In addition, the death was caused or contributed to by the fact that the deceased was not wearing a seatbelt and we are unanimously agreed on that.”

The inquest lasted six months, featured evidence from over 278 witnesses and is said to have cost British taxpayers more than UKP10 million.

Before they began deliberating last Wednesday, the jury were told by Coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker that Diana’s former father-in-law Prince Philip had absolutely nothing to do with the couple’s deaths.

Dodi’s father Mohamed Al Fayed had always maintained the Duke of Edinburgh was behind a plot to have Diana and Dodi murdered as they were about to announce their engagement and the princess was pregnant.

Other witnesses who appeared at the inquest included Diana’s sister Sarah McCorquodale and the princess’ former butler Paul Burrell.

Burrell’s evidence was later discredited when he was secretly filmed telling a friend he had lied during his testimony.

Since the crash there has been a French investigation and an inquiry by Lord Stevens, with both ruling the couple were killed in a tragic accident due to Henri Paul being over the drink-drive limit.

Following yesterday’s ruling of the inquest, Stevens said he hoped people could move on from the matter to allow Diana and Dodi to rest in peace.