British hearings into the deaths of Princess Diana and her companion Dodi al-Fayed will be held in public after a decision that they should be conducted in secret was reversed.

The original decision of presiding judge Elizabeth Butler-Sloss had been strongly criticised by Fayed's father Mohamed, owner of the exclusive London store Harrods.

The preliminary hearings, scheduled for next month, are the latest step in efforts to get to the bottom of the death of the couple.

Diana, 36, Fayed, 42, and their chauffeur Henri Paul died when their Mercedes limousine smashed into a wall in a Paris road tunnel in 1997.

A two-year French inquiry blamed the crash on Paul, saying he was drunk, under the influence of anti-depressants and driving too fast.