London, Jan 22 : Princess Diana's chauffer Henri Paul may have had eight alcoholic drinks on the fateful night of the crash that killed him, the Princess, and her lover Dodi Al Fayed, the inquest into their deaths has heard.
Paul was found to be more than twice the British drink drive limit and three times the French limit during his autopsy, following the tragedy on Aug 31 1997.
Staff at Paris' Ritz hotel has already told that Paul drank two 50ml liqueurs that night, and his blood alcohol content was said to show he consumed the equivalent of five alcohol measures.
However, his blood alcohol level, 1.74g of alcohol per litre of blood, was twice the drink-drive limit for UK motorists, the court heard.
Pathologist Professor Robert Forrest, who also doubts the quality of the blood samples taken, said this was more consistent with eight drinks.
Prof Forrest was called to testify at the inquest in order to interpret the results of the French toxicology tests carried out following the crash.
Prof Forrest, a retired consultant who was also involved in the inquiry into the death by Lord Stevens, said that there were "unresolved inconsistencies" with the results.
He explained that the blood alcohol content was 174 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, twice the British limit of 80 and three times that of the 50 French limit.
"I estimate that in order to reach the blood alcohol of 174 in a man of Mr Paul's physique that would represent 240 millilitres of Ricard," the Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
Asked if the alcohol level corresponded to the two drinks Paul had been seen drinking before taking the wheel, he said: "It is likely to reflect the consumption of considerably more alcohol than that."
"Possibly of the order of three more," he added.
He said the driver might 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.