New DNA evidence proves the driver of the car carrying Diana, Princess of Wales, was drunk on the night of her fatal crash in Paris in 1997, the BBC reported Saturday.

The tests confirm original post-mortem blood samples that were taken from driver Henri Paul and showed he had three times the French legal limit of alcohol in his blood, the BBC said, quoting from a documentary scheduledtoair on the networkSunday.

Paul, Diana and her friend Dodi Fayed were killed when the Mercedes they were travelling incrashed in the Pont d'Alma tunnel in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997, while the couple were beingpursued by photographers.

Conspiracy theories

Rumours and conspiracy theories continue to swirl around the death of the former wife of Prince Charles, despite a French judge's 1999 ruling the crash was an accident. An investigation later concluded Paul had been drinking and was driving at high speed.

Conspiracy theorists have claimed Paul's blood samples were swapped with blood from someone else — who was drunk — and contended the driver had not been drinking the night Diana died.

An official British report into the crash, to be published Thursday, is expected to find her death was an accident.

The Observer newspaper said the report, compiled by former British Metropolitan Police chief John Stevens, would conclude Paul was drunk at the time of the crash.

Among the report's findings, the newspaper said, was the fact the U.S. Secret Service was bugging Diana's phone without the approval of its British counterpart on the night of her death.

The newspaper said U.S. officials assured Stevens the secretly recorded conversations shed no new light on her death.

It said Stevens' report would also confirm claims Paul had been in the pay of the French intelligence services.

British police declined comment on the BBC report or Stevens's investigation.

The BBC reported that an unidentified source with access to the French investigation said within the last year French officials took a DNA profile from Paul's blood samples and matched it with the DNA of his parents, proving the samples had not been switched.

Prof. Andre Lienhart, who reviewed the emergency services' response for the French investigation, told the program, called The Conspiracy Files, a key factor in the accident was Diana had not worn a seat belt.

"What is certain is that she was not wearing a seat belt and this made things worse," Lienhart was quoted as saying in extracts screened Saturday.

"We would like to think that if she had been wearing a seat belt, we'd have been able to save her."

This week, a former judge who will preside over Diana's British inquest said preliminary hearings will be held in public and not in private, as had been planned, after a protest from Fayed's father Mohammed, who owns Harrods department store.

The inquest, convened and then swiftly adjourned in 2004, is due to formally resume next year. Preliminary hearings will be held Jan. 8-9 at the Royal Courts of Justice.

With files from the Associated Press