The Paris car hire firm named in the new controversy surrounding the fatal last journey of Diana, Princess of Wales, has hit back over the claim that its vehicles are unreliable.
Papers released by the UK's Cabinet Office have revealed the Princess was forced into a last-minute switch of vehicle after her initial rental failed to start.
Delmer L'Automobiles was supposed to have provided the Princess and her companion, Dodi Al Fayed, with a newly-registered limousine but a mix-up in bookings led to the couple having to take a 1962 Triumph Herald.
And it was the failure of this small saloon to start, when they left the Ritz after dining, that they made the tragic decision to use the substitute Mercedes that was later involved in the horrific crash that claimed their lives.
An official memo, sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair on the day they died, said: "The Triumph Herald was an absolute disgrace.
"The back seat was littered with half-eaten baguettes and empty wine bottles. The ashtrays were overflowing and the nearside front tyre was showing terrible signs of wear."
But Sefton Ouvre LaFenetre, managing director of Delmer L'Automobiles, claimed the vehicle was perfectly roadworthy and the reason it hadn't started was down to the carburettor being flooded by somebody who wasn't familiar with the workings of the vintage engine.
"The car, because of its age, did have a starting handle and a little effort would have soon had the engine ticking over," he said.
"The UK government has libelled our company and brought us into disrepute. We will be taking legal advice over this slur."
Monsieur LaFenetre also revealed that the Triumph, which is still in operation, had been vandalised by outraged admirers of the late Princess.
A subsequent memo to Britain's Prime Minister revealed, ironically, that the Princess' first choice of vehicle had been given to a holidaying British family.
They had expected a budget vehicle and were surprised to be given a left-hand drive Bentley for the same price.
In an effort to shield the family from any public anger, the Cabinet Office has refused to reveal their names.
Police protection has also been offered to Mr and Mrs Kevin Abercrombie, 212 East Statue Park, Durness Avenue, Helmdale, East Sussex, as an extra security measure.
The couple refused to comment on the fact that they, and the car hire firm, were responsible for the Princess of Wales' death.