Wednesday, May 31, 2006 Posted: 2300 GMT (0700 HKT)
LONDON, England (Reuters) -- The detective leading a British investigation into the death of Princess Diana said he has found new witnesses and fresh forensic evidence about the fatal car crash in a Paris road tunnel in 1997.
Sir John Stevens, a former chief of London's Metropolitan police who is heading a crash inquiry, refused to give details.
He was speaking during an interview at a literary festival in southern England where he is launching a book. His comments were reported by British media on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman at London's Scotland Yard police headquarters confirmed fresh evidence had emerged. "As would be expected, new witnesses have been spoken to and new forensics have been considered as part of the continuing investigations," she said.
Diana, her companion Dodi al Fayed and their chauffeur Henri Paul were killed on August 31, 1997, when their Mercedes crashed after it sped away from the Ritz hotel in the French capital with paparazzi photographers in hot pursuit on motorbikes.
An inquiry by French authorities in 1999 ruled that the crash was caused by Paul being drunk and driving too fast.
But the circumstances of the crash still cause controversy.
Mohamed al Fayed, Dodi's father and the owner of the exclusive London store Harrods, has said he believes his son and Diana were murdered by British secret services because their relationship was embarrassing Britain's royal household.
Fayed said he was pleased new witnesses had been found.
"I know it was murder," he said in a statement. "And I am encouraged to hear it confirmed that Lord Stevens has traced new witnesses and obtained new forensic evidence.
"I am optimistic that he will not be bullied by the intelligence services whom I believe executed my son, Dodi, and Diana."
Diana's marriage to Britain's heir to the throne Prince Charles broke down in 1992 and ended in divorce. Charles married his long-time lover Camilla Parker Bowles last year.
Stevens said his team had completely dismantled the Mercedes car involved in the crash as part of his investigation. He also said he would deal with each and every conspiracy theory.
"At the end of the day we have to do a job that draws a line under this one way or another," he said.
Fayed said Stevens should not be too quick to end the investigation. "I only hope that he is not forced to 'draw a line' under the investigation before he gets to the truth."
Stevens' report is expected to be published later this year.