London, Jan 10 : The security team protecting Princess Diana contributed to her death by treating the paparazzi as "the enemy," the inquest into her death has heard.
Diana's Scotland Yard bodyguard Ken Wharfe was fiercely critical of the cat-and-mouse" security tactics employed outside the Paris Ritz hotel in the hours before the princess and lover Dodi Fayed were killed in a car crash on Aug 31, 1997.
Wharfe blasted Diana's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, who survived the tragedy, explaining how the situation should have been dealt with.
He told the London hearing that the tragedy would "never have happened" if Rees-Jones had made an effort to come to an understanding with photographers.
Wharfe explained that rather than adopting an alienating approach, the Ritz security team should have given photogs a few seconds to grab their snaps of Diana, which would have allowed the princess to make a "dignified" exit from the hotel and also prevented the accident.
He added that he would have talked to the British Embassy and local cops to inform them of the visit, even though it was private.
"For some reason Mr Rees-Jones seemed to be occupied with treating the media as an enemy rather than - as I did on a number of occasions - bring them on-side," The Sun quoted Wharfe, as saying.
"I have openly but fairly been critical of the protection afforded to Diana and Dodi that evening. The photographers are a group of people who could and would have helped him. They were no threat to cause Diana or Dodi any harm. But he alienated them," he added.
The inquest has already heard how a decoy Range Rover was sent past the hotel to baffle snappers.
But Wharfe blasted this decoy tactics as well, saying: "To try to organise a decoy system never works. To play these sort of cat-and-mouse games with the media is a game that's sure to be lost. It is the beginning of the end."
"If the paparazzi had been managed this would never have happened, of that I'm confident. Had the security men spoken to them at the beginning, they would tell you they wanted a picture.
"Diana would occasionally fight against it but she would agree because it would give her a clear path. After all, she was the most photographed woman in the world.
"Another set of photos lasting seconds would have considerably eased that process. It would lead to a dignified and open departure from the hotel. There was nothing that warranted the covert departure from the Ritz. It seemed the right occasion for holidaymakers to see the Princess, and for the paparazzi that wanted pictures.
"Trevor Rees-Jones treated the paparazzi as an enemy rather than a friend. A better dialogue would have gone some way to preventing this terrible accident. Henri Paul, the bodyguards, the hotel, were all contributing to her death," he added.