The photographer accused of helping MI6 to murder Princess Diana was found in a burnt-out BMW with a hole in his head, a court heard today.
James Andanson died after boasting to friends of having secretly taken "explosive" photos of the Paris crash scene, the Diana inquest was told.
The Frenchman owned a white Fiat Uno, which Mohamed Al Fayed claims he used to cause the fatal collision that killed the princess and his son Dodi.
The Harrods boss believes the photographer was planning to go public with his "involvement" in the alleged British secret service plot when his charred body was found in a forest near his home in the South of France in May 2000.
French Investigating officer Jean-Michel Lauzun told the London hearing that he arrived while the vehicle was still ablaze and saw the corpse alight at the steering wheel with a two inch hole in his left temple.
But police concluded that it was a suicide after a pathologist said the hole was due to the intense heat of the fire after he set alight to himself.
High levels of carbon monoxide was also found in his blood, suggesting Andanson was alive inside the fireball long enough to inhale fumes, rather than being killed beforehand.
But Mr Al Fayed's barrister Michael Mansfield QC suggested he may have been attacked before the car was set on fire.
He said: "We just don't know whether it s a case of a man consigning himself to a bizarre and painful death or whether in fact some violence had been meted out to him first."
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Four months afte
Unlike other paparazzi in the chase, he claimed to have been too "cunning" to get rounded up by the police afterwards and escaped arrest.
His photos from the scene were kept hidden in a safe and would cause a furore when they were published, he insisted.
French police were later tipped off about Andanson's claims, but when they interviewed him he produced receipts to show that on the night of the crash he had been in Lignieres, 170 miles to the south of Paris.
And while he had owned a white Fiat Uno, tests showed that paint flecks on the Mercedes could not have come from it.
Mr Al Fayed claims Diana and Dodi were killed on the orders of Prince Philip because she was pregnant with his child and they were planning to marry.