However, as the time approached for my interview we happened to interview Jon King, host of the conscious ape radio show on Righteous Indignation. Jon has authored books on the Diana conspiracy. He supports the conspiracy and believes that there is more to her death than the inquiry concluded.
The research I did prior to the interview with King was extensive and I became a little bit obsessed with it and this is the reason I asked Karl if I could change the conspiracy I was covering.
I forgot all about the research that I had done in preparation for the chat with King that I also used as my notes for the Conspiracy skeptic interview until I stumbled upon it this morning whilst cleaning up my documents. I thought I'd write them up on here because one thing I noticed what I was doing my research was that there wasn't one place that laid out all the facts about the tragedy in the Alma Tunnel. I spent ages going from site to site trying to piece together something that made sense.
Be warned, it's a lot of reading, so here goes.
I was ten years old when Princess Diana died and I can still remember the public outcry at her death, the mass of people grieving and throwing flowers at her coffin and even the pull out order of service that could be followed by those watching her funeral at home on their television sets. It was a death that seriously affected the country and so it is little surprise that her death is still a hot topic twelve years later.
Diana died in Paris aged 36 on 1st of August in 1997. The Mercedes that she was travelling in was involved in a high speed car crash in the Alma Tunnel – a site that was, and still is, a notorious accident hot spot.
Prior to the car journey that was to end in tragedy, Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed had entered The Ritz Hotel but, being hounded by the paparazzi they were forced to abandon plans for a romantic meal and instead decided to go to Dodi’s apartment on the Champs Elysees. The deputy head of their security team, Henri Paul, was called back to drive the couple away from the hotel.
They planned to avoid the press by sending a decoy driver and security vehicle to the front of the building whilst Princess Diana, Dodi, Henri Paul and bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones attempted to slip out of the back of the hotel unnoticed. However, it didn’t work because the waiting press gave chase and rather than taking the direct route to Dodi’s apartment, the Mercedes that they were travelling in tried to outrun the paparazzi.
They headed for a dual carriageway by the River Seine and 4 minutes later the car entered the Alma tunnel.
Because Diana was such an extraordinary woman to so many people, lots of people find it completely unacceptable that someone like that should have such an ordinary death - a simple, tragic car crash and within hours of Diana’s death being announced, suggestions that she had been murdered began to appear to do the rounds.
Marriage & Pregnancy
Some conspiracy theorists claim that Diana was murdered because she had divorced Prince Charles and there were rumours that she was to announce her engagement to Dodi Al Fayed. One book ‘Diana: The hidden truth’ claims that Diana had been chosen to marry into the Royal Family because she, as a Spencer, was of the ‘grail bloodline’, and could improve the family as breeding stock.
It should be noted that this claim is unsubstantiated though, yet the authors claim that two of the ‘Saunière Parchments’ contained the grail genealogies, and that MI6, the SOE and the CIA were “largely instrumental in their transfer from France to Britain during the 1950s.” Yet, they name no source for this information and we simply have to take their word that what they say is true. Something I choose not to do, for obvious reasons.
Mohammed Al Fayed, Dodi’s father, believes that their marriage provided the motive for the British establishment to commit murder. It is well known that Al Fayed claims Prince Phillip was behind the assassination plot and when questioned about if he felt what happened was caused and authorised by Prince Philip, Mohamed Al Fayed said:
‘Definitely. He, himself is a racist - it is well known. Grown up with a Nazi - You think he would accept my son to marry Princess Diana, the mother of the future king of England?’
However, Al Fayed also claimed that the princess was killed because she was pregnant. When he was asked how he knew this he claimed that Diana had told him over the phone. Yet – there is staggering evidence against Diana having been pregnant.
For example, the autopsy carried out on Diana when she was back in England showed that she was not pregnant. Also, Diana had visited a clinic in London ten days before her death for treatment for PMT and checks carried out by her consultant, Dr Lily Hua, confirmed that Diana was not pregnant and yet, Mohammed still claims that the pregnancy was covered up and that she was murdered because of it.
During the inquest into the tragedy, Lord Justice Scott Baker told the jury:
"There is no evidence that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered Diana's execution, and there is no evidence that the secret intelligence service or any other government agency organised it."
Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6 and director of operations at the time of Diana's death, testified that no assassinations had been carried out under his authority, nor had he known of any in his entire career from 1966 to 2004. He said Mohammed Al Fayed's suggestion that the UK was really run by Prince Philip and the security services, was "absurd" and "completely off the map".
It was the driver, with the car, in the tunnel
Conspiracy theorists believe the security services orchestrated the crash. The most direct route from the Ritz hotel to Dodi’s apartment was along the Champs Elysee but for some reason the driver, Henri Paul, set off in a different direction, heading west towards the Alma tunnel.
This has led Conspiracists to believe he took this route not to escape the paparazzi, but because he was told to by his intelligence handlers.
It’s accepted that Henri Paul, as deputy head of security at the Ritz, came into contact with a number of security services but conspiracists go much further. They claim that Henri Paul was being paid by British Intelligence, particularly MI6 and that he was also being paid by the Paris Police and the Paris Special Branch -as well as being paid by the American Intelligence services.
This theory was fuelled when former MI6 agent Richard Tomlinson came forward with a sensational claim about Henri Paul.
Tomlinson claimed that in the two to three hours prior to making the car journey with the Princess and Dodi Al Fayed, Henri Paul had been absent and could well have been with an MI6 handler during that time.
But there’s a problem with the conspiracy and that is that it’s potentially a suicide mission because, as we know, Henri Paul tragically died alongside the princess and Dodi al Fayed.
Conspiracists claim though that he must have been tricked – just like Diana and Dodi and that he didn’t take the route knowing he was going to die.
The claims that Henri Paul had links with the secret services were investigated and it was discovered that he was just a low level informant for the French police. If you take into consideration that he was in charge of security at a large Parisian hotel it’s clear to see why exactly he would have such contacts with the police. He certainly wasn’t on the payroll as was suggested.
The flash conspiracy
Now, one of the first conspiracy theories that I can remember hearing about on the news was when a witness came forward and claimed to be driving through the tunnel at the time of the crash.
François Levistre’s story neatly fitted the conspiracy of secret service involvement in the crash. Levistre was questioned and claimed to have seen a massive flash of light before the accident that he claimed was much brighter and stronger than a camera flash. Lavistre claimed that just after the flash the Mercedes that the Princess was travelling in started to swerve across the road.
This supposed flash was somehow explained by conspiracy theorists as having been an anti-personnel device which when set off, gives out one enormously powerful flash of light that can stun people and blind them for several minutes.
Ex-spy Richard Tomlinson claimed MI6 planned to use exactly this piece of kit to orchestrate a fatal car crash in a tunnel. The target was former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic. The death of Diana was straight out of an MI6 assassination blueprint if Tomlinson is to be believed – and that’s a big IF…
Upon hearing of this theory Mohammed Al Fayed jumped to the conclusion that this was what had killed his son and the world’s media seized on the conspiracy story but the French police had immediate doubts. Investigators pointed out that if there had been a flash, it would have blinded not only the driver of the Mercedes, but other drivers in the tunnel too and everybody would have crashed into one another at the same time. They dismissed Levistre’s claims but were soon inundated with eye witness testimonies from dozens of people who claimed to have seen the same thing but who were all deemed as unreliable due to the media coverage of the conspiracy.
Most of the conspiracy theories focus on the driver of the car. See, the official reason given for the death of the occupants of that car was that the driver, Henri Paul, was drunk. Conspiracy theorists claim that this was not so and that the blood samples that showed he was drunk were switched.
Why would this happen? Well, the idea is that the deceased driver was being used as a cover up by MI6, the CIA or whoever else it is that is supposed to have killed the princess.
The investigation into Diana’s death was the biggest ever conducted in French history and just 8 hours after the accident, the French Police carried out a post mortem at the Medical Legal Institute on the driver, Henri Paul. The tests carried out on his blood showed he was clearly drunk. They found between 174 -187 milligram’s of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood in his system. Now, the drink-drive limit in the UK is 80mg per 100ml and in France the limit is 50mg per 100ml.
Professor Robert Forrest, who reviewed the blood tests carried out by French doctors, told the inquest that the results were consistent with Mr Paul having had between five and eight 50ml shots of Ricard - a liqueur that he was known to be drinking that evening according to eye witnesses. This is the equivalent of drinking more than a litre of wine.
The results of the initial post mortem were meant to be confidential but were leaked to the press and the BBC reported to the public that Henri Paul had been 3 times over the legal limit and that this had been the cause of the accident. However, Conspiracy theorists believe the leak was designed to close the case as quickly as possible and hide a more elaborate plot.
The refusal to accept the official verdict gained momentum. Gerald Posner, an American investigative Journalist told the BBC how he apparently saw confidential reports from the first autopsy of Henri Paul and it was riddled with errors and omissions and that the body itself was left out for several hours before it was refrigerated and thus yeast could have grown effecting the final results to what the alcohol levels in the blood were.
He also claimed that serious errors were made at the morgue which French officials initially denied - such as Henri Paul’s blood samples not being labelled correctly and there being no log or record as to who had access to the samples.
Conspiracy theorists maintain the blood was tampered with, to frame the dead driver and Posner pointed out that “there were certainly mistakes and omissions made as happens in many autopsies but by the French hiding that information they have given grist to the conspiracy theorist who believe that they are hiding evidence of a murder.”
Shortly after the crash Mohamed Al Fayed called a press conference in which his spokesman Michael Cole said he could show that their employee, Henri Paul was not drunk.
They released CCTV footage from The Ritz hotel that, in their opinion – and in the minds of the theorists, shows that the driver couldn’t have been drunk. Also, the theorists point out that because there is no evidence that people saw him drinking we must assume that he wasn’t drunk and he wasn’t drinking which is just absurd.
The CCTV footage released also showed Henri Paul chatting to Diana’s bodyguards – Trevor Rees-Jones and Kez Wingfield.
The two bodyguards swore that Henri Paul was not drunk when he got in the car to drive Diana and Dodi and they said their job would have been on the line if they had allowed such a thing.
Henri Paul had also undertaken a rigorous pilot’s medical examination three days prior to the crash and there was no suggestion in the results of the exam that he was a drinker, or a drunk and this is enough proof to some that he couldn’t have been drunk on the night of that fatal crash.
Paul’s best friend Claude Garrec had lunch with Henri on the day of the crash and said: “I absolutely don’t believe that the accident was the fault of my friend. If you can fly a plane, at night, at 155 miles an hour, in the rain, you know what you are doing.”
However all of these points aren’t really relevant because nothing of the above means that Henri Paul wasn’t drunk on that particular night.
Within days of the crash, French officials realised the controversy over whether Henri Paul was drunk or not, was getting out of hand and they ordered a second post mortem.
The results were the same as the first. He was 3 times over the French limit but this was still plagued with claims that the blood samples had been switched as part of a cover up. People just weren’t going to be convinced.
Professor Derrick Pounder, a leading forensic pathologist analysed the post mortem results for the British Medical Journal and commented that “The second post mortem examination in terms of the toxicological analysis was the best that could be expected of anyone. It was first class.”
He said that “They took hair specimens and other tissue specimens, so that as a result of those analyses we know that the blood alcohol level is reliable.
He also commented on how the tests also revealed traces of a drug used to treat alcoholics. The concentrations suggested Henri Paul had been taking the drug for at least three months along with the antidepressant Prozac.
So what we know is absolutely clear is that Henri Paul had been drinking heavily and he was drunk when he was driving that vehicle. Not only that but he was taking an anti depressant which he should not have been while taking the other drug that was found in his system. Both the alcohol and drug in combination would have impaired his ability to drive the car.
However, there was still an abnormality in the post mortem findings that was seized upon by those convinced of a cover-up and that was the fact that Henri Paul’s blood samples contained unusually high levels of carbon monoxide.
Mohamed Al Fayed suspected foul play and is quoted to have said:
‘If you have carbon monoxide of 24% in the blood, you can’t walk, for I am certain there is foul play, I am certain it’s not Henri Paul’s blood.’
Conspiracy theorists were now fixed on the idea that the driver’s blood samples had been switched. There were rumors that there were twenty-two people who had died in Paris that night which were investigatable deaths. One of them was apparently a man who drank half a bottle or more of Vodka before sitting in his car after tying a hosepipe from the exhaust to the inside of the car and killed himself through carbon monoxide poisoning. Conspiracists claim that this mans blood must have been the blood that was switched with Henri Paul’s and thus, the samples of blood tested showed high levels of Carbon Monoxide.
Professor Pounder, who I previously mentioned has said he believes that there is an innocent explanation for the high carbon monoxide in Paul’s blood.
He pointed out how Carbon monoxide as a result of cigar smoking can be easily as high as twenty percent in the blood. Once we were made aware that Henry Paul was a heavy cigar smoker, it can be readily explained how the carbon monoxide levels were so high in his blood.
A speeding car & a mysterious photo
It was concluded that before Diana’s car entered the Alma tunnel it was going between 75 and 95 miles per hour when the speed limit is actually just 30 miles per hour. The Commander of the Criminal Brigade at the time of the accident pointed out that the driver of the Mercedes almost certainly lost control of the vehicle at the entrance of the tunnel, which explains why he braked and why there were tyre marks on the tarmac. The experts examined these facts, and concluded that he was driving at high speed.
Approaching the Alma tunnel would have been difficult for a speeding car because the approach involves a left turn and a sharp dip. It’s here where the car lost control before hitting the 13th pillar. The road has a downward slope of 6 percent and if the slope is taken at high speed there is a small pull on the steering wheel, which could explain why the driver lost control of the vehicle. Not to mention that the Alma Tunnel is an accident black spot because in the decade before Diana’s death eight people had been killed in the same area whilst another 8 were seriously injured. Yet, despite this conspiracist’s don’t accept that the Mercedes was being driven at high speeds and was out of control.
Their proof is a photograph supposedly taken from the CCTV camera at the entrance to the Alma tunnel. It was apparently taken a couple of seconds before Diana died and conspiracists claim it shows the car was only travelling at 64 miles per hour. It’s apparently taken through the windscreen of a car and is a CCTV speed camera shot. In the photo it is said you can clearly see Henri Paul the driver on the right, Rees-Jones, the bodyguard on the left, and in the back are Diana and Dodi.
However, when the photo was released the authorities involved with the French investigation were adamant that the picture was not from a CCTV camera. How did they know? Well, rather embarrassingly, it seems all the CCTV cameras along the route were switched off after 9 pm or were not facing the direction of the route taken by the Mercedes. This is, apparently, further proof of a government cover up according to conspiracy theorists.
However, this throws up the question of where the picture actually came from if the CCTV cameras were all switched off or not facing the right direction. Well, it has since been established that the picture is one of those seized from the arrested paparazzi photographers and it was actually taken as the Mercedes pulled away from the Ritz and it’s not a CCTV still from the Alma tunnel at all and so despite the conspiracists attempt to prise open gaps in the police account the available evidence suggests the Mercedes was travelling too fast.
The other car
There is evidence that another car may have been involved in the collision as orange, white and red bits of plastic were found on the ground and they looked like indicator lights from a car and there were also traces of white paint found upon the Mercedes. Forensic tests revealed the white paint and broken lights came from a Fiat Uno that had been manufactured between 1983 and 1987 and there were, at the time around 10,000 white Fiat Uno’s in France that matched that description that were still on the road which would warrant quite a search for the car. The Uno has never been found which conspiracy theorists believe is because the driver was part of the murder plot.
However, Senior British collision investigator Anthony Read told the inquest that a glancing collision with a 900kg Uno would not have caused the much larger Mercedes 280S saloon, weighing approximately 2 tonnes, to run off the road. He pointed out that the presence of the Uno may have caused Henri Paul, who was speeding, to swerve and in doing so he "over-reacted" and lost control of the car.
The authorities checked between 3 and 4 thousand vehicles through the months that followed the accident. They zeroed in on one car they thought might fit the description and three months after the accident they detained Le Van Thanh, a 23 year old Vietnamese. He was a security guard who owned the right model of Fiat, from the right year. It had been repainted, from white to red, the day after the Alma tunnel crash however, he had an alibi as he had been working at the time of the incident in the tunnel and the French Police closed the case. They since abandoned the hunt for the missing driver which has left the conspiracists to develop their own explanation that the car driver was involved in the plot against the princess and thus, the authorities don’t want to find him or her – however, there is no evidence to back this up. With the amount of cars that they had to search through it was a near impossible task.
The delayed journey to hospital
Those who believe that Diana was murdered also point out how it took 1 hour and 43 minutes to get her to a hospital despite only being roughly 4 km away. Conspiracists point out that surely, such a delay was purposeful and was to ensure that she died from her injuries that she may have actually survived had she been taken directly to the hospital.
However, in any road traffic accident or collision great efforts have to be made to safely remove the people from the wreckage of the car. In Princess Diana’s case she had to be placed on a stretcher to remove her from the car and while she was being removed she suffered a brief cardiac arrest and the medical team needed time to stabilise her.
This isn’t all though, as once the medics had the princess inside the ambulance onlookers commented on how the ambulance was travelling at little faster than walking speed and conspirators believe that this adds to their case that her arrival to hospital was delayed purposefully.
Yet, actually, the transfer to the hospital was deliberately slow, because for people whose blood circulation is very unstable even a slight acceleration or deceleration can cause cardiac arrest.
Criticism still comes though because Diana was taken to the pitie-salpietri hospital meaning that the ambulance ignored five other hospitals that were closer, however, the hospital was chosen for its expertise in treating serious trauma - most importantly, chest trauma and as Diana had suffered a massive tear in the main pulmonary vein to her heart it was deemed to be the best place to take her and yet, as valid and likely as these explanations are people are still convinced that she was purposely kept from a hospital so that she would die of her injuries.
The only references I could find online about the Boston Brakes idea were from conspiracy websites themselves. According to these websites, a former SAS sergeant revealed that the 'accident' in which Diana died bore all the tell-tail signs of a known Special Forces assassination technique known as the 'Boston brakes'. The testimony of former SAS officer and world famous explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes confirms that the 'Boston brakes' is apparently a commonly employed assassination technique used by hired 'hit squads', and that it involves the use of a device which remotely controls the target-vehicle's steering and brakes. Fiennes goes on to say that this method has been used at least once in England, and in this regard describes in some detail the assassination of one Major Michael Marman, who was killed in a 'car crash' near Stonehenge in 1986.
As I said, I couldn’t find any other mentions of this method. Pair this with the fact that there was no material evidence of such a device having been used to cause the crash in the Alma tunnel and this surely speaks for itself?
“If something does happen to me it will be MI5 or MI6 who will have done it ... Prince Philip wants to see me dead.” Princess Diana, November 1995.
Something else that conspiracy theorists use as some form of evidence that she was murdered is the fact that Diana feared for her life. According to Lord Mishcon, Diana's former lawyer Diana had told him that she had been informed by "sources" that the Queen would abdicate to make way for Prince Charles. Diana said efforts would be made to sideline her by engineering a car accident which, if it did not "get rid of her," would at least injure her enough to have her declared "unbalanced."
The princess's former boyfriend Hasnat Khan also said in a written statement that Diana got rid of her black Audi car in 1995 telling him she was worried the brakes had been tampered with.
During the inquest into Diana’s death one of Diana's 'therapists' was called to give Evidence. The testimony of Miss Simmons, who describes herself as an ‘energy healer’ provided an insight into the world of the princess, including her belief in alternative therapies.
Patrick Jephson, Diana’s private former private secretary said the "paranoid" princess fell for more and more outlandish claims toward the end of her life.
Questioning him, Jonathan Hough, the Diana inquest counsel, said: "She continued to heed her astrologer's predictions, the more dire the better, particularly where the prince was concerned. "She was rewarded with regular forecasts of helicopter crashes, skiing accidents and other calamities that obstinately refused to befall him."
He said he was worried that she put so much faith in astrologers and soothsayers because this "fed the paranoia that never lurked far beneath the surface".
By the time of her Panorama interview in 1995, he said, Diana "saw plots everywhere", even claiming that someone had taken a "pot-shot" at her with a gun in Hyde Park. "Needless to say, I had all the accusations checked out, but the threats were, as I had known all along, all in her imagination."
Mr Jephson said Diana consulted a "bewildering cocktail" of alternative therapists, including astrologers, reflexologists, psychoanalysts and soothsayers as well as having treatments such as colonic irrigation and massage. He said she was unrestrained in her appetite for such therapies, but that they "robbed her of her equilibrium at times of stress and dissipated her powers of concentration.
It's hard to imagine a government inquiry more thorough than the 900-page Operation Paget, supervised by Lord Stevens - the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service at a cost of £4 million. Investigators not only checked each element of the predominant conspiracy theory - the one backed by Mohamed Al Fayed - against all available evidence and testimony, but incorporated Fayed's own research in their output.
Their findings were unambiguous:
"Our conclusion is that, on all the evidence available at this time, there was no conspiracy to murder any of the occupants of the car. This was a tragic accident."
"Three people tragically lost their lives in the accident and one was seriously injured. Many more have suffered from the intense scrutiny, speculation and misinformed judgements in the years that have followed. I very much hope that all the work we have done and the publication of this report will help to bring some closure to all who continue to mourn the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, Dodi Al Fayed, and Henri Paul."
On April 7, 2008 the verdict of the coroner's inquest jury was announced:
Diana's "unlawful death" was caused by the recklessness of limo driver Henri Paul and the paparazzi pursuing Diana and Dodi Al Fayed through the streets of Paris.
Recently charges were made in France over the handling of the investigation of the crash and bodies of those involved (including the handling on the blood samples from Henri Paul) and this, according to theorists is proof that something fishy was going on.
However I disagree because as clear as it is that there were major flaws in the investigation this doesn’t instantly prove that the passengers of the vehicle were murdered. I’m willing to be proven wrong but it is safe to say that the case will never be closed in the minds of many. Despite all the evidence to the contrary many people will still choose to believe that Diana was murdered that night in that tunnel and I honestly don’t think anything they are told will convince them otherwise.