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Princess Diana death: Scotland Yard to assess fresh claims

Scotland Yard has said it was “scoping” new information about the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi al-Fayed.

The new file, passed to the Metropolitan Police by Royal Military Police officers, includes allegations that a former SAS soldier claimed to know who “arranged Princess Diana's death and that it had been covered up”.

The allegation is contained in a letter written by the former parents-in-law of an ex-serviceman. The letter emerged during the most recent court martial of former SAS sniper Danny Nightingale, 38, who was convicted of possessing a gun and ammunition.

The former soldier accused of having knowledge of Princess Diana's death is an ex-colleague of Sgt Nightingale.

Diana, Dodi and their chauffeur Henri Paul died on August 31, 1997 in a car crash in Paris. An inquest found they had been unlawfully killed because of a lack of seatbelts, excessive speed and Mr Paul's drink-driving.

A three-year police re-investigation of the circumstances – Operation Paget – rejected previous claims of murder by Dodi's father, former Harrods owner Mohamed al-Fayed.

A Scotland Yard statement said: "We are scoping information in relation to the deaths and assessing its relevance and credibility. The assessment will be carried out by officers from the specialist crime and operations command. This is not a re-investigation and does not come under Operation Paget."

A spokesman for Mr Fayed said he had no comment to make, but that he will be "interested in seeing the outcome", adding that he trusts the Met will investigate the information "with vigour".

Dai Davies, an ex-head of Royal Protection, said he was mystified by the claims.

He told ITV News that the deaths were "an accident by any definition, and three separate inquiries ... have come to the same independent conclusion".

He added: "I am absolutely convinced this was an accident so I'm mystified, after 13 years, how any new information can possibly allege anything other than [that] this was a tragic accident."

Police said they are not prepared to discuss the matter further, while a royal spokeswoman said there will be no comment on the matter from the Duke of Cambridge or Prince Harry, or from Clarence House.

Diana, Dodi and chauffeur Henri Paul died after their Mercedes crashed in a Paris tunnel after it left the Ritz Hotel on the morning of August 31, 1997.

Diana, mother of William and Harry, was 36 at the time of her death, while Dodi was 42.

Theories surrounding Diana's death

The death of Diana, Princess of Wales, nearly 16 years ago shocked the world and led to controversial theories about what had caused the crash.

Mohamed al Fayed, Dodi's father, was perhaps the most outspoken, claiming the couple had been murdered by security services. For more than a decade, he kept up a legal quest to prove their deaths had not been an accident.

He never accepted that his employee Henri Paul, who was driving the Mercedes that slammed into the 13th pillar of the Alma Tunnel in Paris on August 31, 1997, was under the influence of alcohol - despite blood samples showing he had been three times over the French drink-drive limit.

Instead, he claimed that the crash had been orchestrated by MI6 at the behest of the Duke of Edinburgh, to kill Diana so that she would not marry Dodi, a Muslim, and bear his child. During the inquest into the deaths however, he admitted he lacked evidence.

Other claims made by Mr al Fayed that came to light during the inquest were that Diana had been pregnant at the time she died, which was dismissed by a pathologist, and that she and Dodi had planned to announce their engagement, but there was no evidence that was the case.

The hearing into the deaths was also told that in 1995, Diana told several people that she believed the brakes on her car had been tampered with and that her life could be in danger. The coroner said that despite her claims, there was "no evidence" to suggest she had then had her car checked for such tampering.

Ultimately, the inquest jury found that it had been Mr Paul's negligent driving and that of the pursuing paparazzi that had led to the deaths.

Mr al Fayed abandoned his cause a day after the inquest returned the verdicts of unlawful killing. At the time, the then-Harrods owner said he was making his decision for the sake of Princes William and Harry but admitted he still had "reservations" about what had happened on that fateful night in France.

Speaking in 2008, Mr al Fayed said he was "tired" of the fight, but added: "I'm leaving the rest for God to get my revenge."

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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