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Death of Diana, Princess of Wales

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Although the initial French investigation found Diana, Princess of Wales had died as a result of an accident, Mohammed Fayed and the Daily Express have persistently raised conspiracy theories that she was assassinated. This led in 2004 to the establishment of a special Metropolitan Police inquiry team, Operation Paget, headed by the then Commissioner Lord Stevens to investigate the conspiracy theories.

Allegation of MI6 involvement Edit

Richard Tomlinson, a former MI6 agent who was dismissed from the intelligence services and later served time in prison for breaching the Official Secrets Act, has claimed that Britain's MI6 was involved. Previously, rogue agents of the secret service had investigated John Lennon and tried to destabilize the 1970s Labour government. Although it would not have seemed impossible for such autonomous cells to get involved in a scandal, evidence later discredited the MI6 theory.

A bright flash Edit

An alternative explanation for the cause of the crash has been reports of a bright white flash just before the car entered the tunnel, blinding the driver. Richard Tomlinson made this allegation in media interviews and claimed it was consistent with eyewitness testimony.

Operation Paget investigated Tomlinson's claim that the use of a powerful strobe light to blind helicopter pilots formed part of MI6 agents' training in the early 1990s and it was apparent this tactic had been used to facilitate the murder of Diana. The police found that such a tactic never, at any time, formed part of MI6 training.

The detail of eyewitness testimony was thoroughly reviewed and Operation Paget officers succeeded in uncovering two new witnesses. The police found that only one eyewitness at the scene of the crash, François Levistre, made a clear, specific reference to seeing a bright flash. He claimed to have seen it in his rear-view mirror and recounted other elements of what he saw in considerable detail while he was negotiating the difficult bend out of the tunnel, a task which would have required his full attention on the road in front of him. Crucially, however, his testimony was directly contradicted by his then-wife, who sat in the passenger seat next to him. Television documentaries produced by Channel 4 in 2004 and the BBC in 2006 both raised the issue of Levistre's prior criminal record for offenses involving dishonesty.

Seatbelt Edit

There was some media discussion in April 2006 suggesting that Diana was a faithful seat belt user and therefore the fact that both her and Dodi's belts either failed or were not used was sinister and may suggest sabotage. Other sources question if she did in fact use her belt all the time, as suggested.

Embalming of the body Edit

Mohamed Al Fayed alleged that Diana's body was deliberately embalmed soon after her death to ensure that any pregnancy test at postmortem would produce a false result.

Operation Paget found that 31 August 1997 was a very hot day in Paris. Diana's body had been stored in an empty room adjacent to the emergency room where she had been treated at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital as the mortuary was on the other side of the hospital grounds and some distance away. Dry ice and air conditioning units were placed in the room to keep it cool but appeared to have little success.

Diana's two sisters and Prince Charles were scheduled to come over to view the body later that afternoon before bringing it back to England, President Jacques Chirac and his wife also wished to pay their respects. This meant there was very little time to prepare the body for viewing and it was clearly unacceptable to present Diana's body to her family and the President of France in its then state.

Faced with this situation, the hospital staff decided to press ahead with embalming with only verbal authority from Madame Martine Monteil, the local superintendent of police, who assured Jean Monceau "that everything would be in order". Under French law, paperwork is required to be completed before undertaking the embalming of any body likely to be subject to a postmortem. This paperwork was completed but only after the embalming had been carried out, giving rise to allegations of suspicious circumstances. This comes despite there being no way the hospital staff could have known whether or not Diana was pregnant as a pregnancy test would have been irrelevant to her post crash treatment and accordingly was not carried out.

Transport to the hospital Edit

The first call to the emergency services switchboard was logged at 12.26 a.m. The SAMU ambulance carrying the Princess arrived at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital at 2.06 a.m. This length of time has prompted much conspiracy-related comment.

The period between the crash and the arrival at the hospital needs to take into account the following: the time taken for emergency services to arrive; the time taken by the Sapeurs-Pompiers de Paris to remove the Princess from the damaged car; and the actual journey time from the crash site to the hospital.

Suicide Edit

James Andanson committed suicide in May 2000. His body was found in a black, burnt-out BMW in a forest in the south of France, the doors were locked with no sign of the car keys. Andanson's death was attributed to problems in his private life and evidence was uncovered from his friends and associates that he had talked of suicide long before the death of Diana and he had even mentioned details of the social circumstances in which he would take his life and the method by which he would do it. Their testimony was consistent with the way Andanson actually took his life.

However, in the Daily Express of 3 September 2007, it was claimed a French firefighter named Christophe Pelat claimed that he had new information as a result of being the first person to arrive at Andanson's death scene. Pelat claims he saw two bullet holes in Andanson's skull, evidence of foul play that contradicted the official line that his death was by suicide. The Paget report states that when the car was found, Andanson's body was in the driver's seat of the car, his head was detached and lay between the front seats. There was also a hole in his left temple. The French pathologist concluded this was due to the intense heat of the fire.

Operation Paget found no evidence Andanson was known to any security service and, contrary to Fayed's claims, his death was thoroughly investigated by French police.

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