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Diana chauffeur "driving like a maniac": court told

LONDON (Reuters) - The chauffeur for Princess Diana and her lover Dodi al-Fayed on their final journey was driving “like a maniac” on the day they died, the inquest into their deaths was told on Tuesday.

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“Henri Paul almost killed us. He drove way too fast and recklessly,” said holistic healer Myriah Daniels who had flown back to Paris with Dodi and Diana after their holiday on a yacht in the Mediterranean in August, 1997.

“He was shit for a driver and that is a fact,” said Daniels, who was driven from Paris’ Le Bourget airport by Paul. Paul was at the wheel of their limousine when Dodi and Diana died in a high-speed crash. Paul also died in the crash.

“I was in a Range Rover driven by Henri Paul,” she said. “I should be dead. I was positive I would be killed in that drive.”

“He was driving like a maniac through the traffic,” she told the court.

The inquest, expected to last up to six months, opened in October after major British and French police investigations.

Both concluded Diana and Dodi died because Paul was drunk and driving too fast.

Daniels, who treated Princess Diana just days before she died, said Diana was definitely not pregnant at the time.

Dodi’s father Mohamed al-Fayed, owner of the Harrods luxury store in London, says Diana and his son were killed by British security services on the orders of Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband and father of Diana’s ex-husband, Prince Charles.

Fayed alleges the killing was ordered because the royal family did not want the mother of the future king having a child with his son. He says Diana’s body was embalmed to cover up evidence she was expecting a baby.

The American holistic healer, who treated Diana on the al-Fayed family yacht while they were sailing in the Mediterranean, said: “She was not pregnant. Period.”

Daniels, who described the couple as being smitten with each other, said: “Nobody ever knew if they would have hooked up. It was too soon. They had just met. They were having fun getting to know each other.”

Close confidante Lucia Flecha de Lima, wife to the then Brazilian ambassador in London, said of Diana’s relationship with Dodi: “I think she was infatuated with him but I don’t think it was a serious relationship.”

Speaking by videolink from Brazil, she poured scorn on reports that Diana feared her ex-husband was planning to arrange a car accident with “brake failure and serious head injury”.

“I still don’t believe she was fearing for her life, especially from Prince Charles.”

editing by Keith Weir