Princess Diana’s chauffeur may have consumed up to eight alcoholic drinks the night she died, her inquest heard yesterday (21.01.08).

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Henri Paul – who was also killed in the Paris car crash on August 31, 1997, along with Diana and her lover Dodi Fayed – drank two 50ml liqueurs in the city’s Ritz hotel before getting behind the wheel of the car, according to bar staff.

But his blood alcohol level revealed he had consumed more than that. Pathologist Professor Robert Forrest told the jury at London’s High Court the test results were “unlikely to reflect taking two 50ml doses of Ricard (liqueur) in the couple of hours or so before death.”

He added: “It is likely to reflect the consumption of a significantly greater amount of alcohol than that.”

Professor Forrest said Paul may have had as many as six drinks while off duty, as well as the two he was seen drinking by bar staff after being called back to the hotel.

He told the inquest: “If you said a litre of wine that might be the sort of figure that would be a rough estimate of the amount of wine that he might have drunk between going off duty and coming back on duty.”

When asked what effect the two drinks might have had on his ability to drive, Professor Forrest said: “I would not willingly have got in a car with someone who had two Ricards.”

But Professor Forrest admitted he had doubts about the quality of the blood samples taken. He told the inquest: “Bottom line is, the interpretation of the samples is only as good as the samples themselves.

“It doesn’t matter how sophisticated the analysis is, if you don’t have the good material to work with you have to qualify the interpretation of the data your laboratory generates.”

Two previous inquiries into the fatal crash ruled Paul was over the drink-drive limit, causing the accident. However, Dodi’s father, Mohamed Al Fayed, has always insisted the couple were killed by the British establishment because they were about to announce their engagement and Diana was pregnant.