Times - 15th Jan - Diana Death Plot fears Kept Secret

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Times - 15th Jan - Diana Death Plot fears Kept Secret

Postby bjr » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:39 pm

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 192578.ece

Steve Bird
A legal document proving Diana, Princess of Wales, feared there was a plot to assassinate her in a car crash was kept secret for six years by Britain's most senior police officers, her inquest heard today.

Lord Mishcon, the Princess's lawyer, went to Scotland Yard nearly three weeks after her death in Paris to reveal that she had held a confidential meeting with her legal team to formally record her suspicions that her life was in danger.

But Sir Paul Condon, the then Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, now Lord Condon of Langton Green, and Sir David Veness, the then Assistant Commissioner, Special Operations, decided not to hand Lord Mishcon's memo listing Diana's concerns to French detectives, English coroners or even the Lord Chancellor.

Instead the evidence was sat on for six years because the policemen decided the death was a "tragic accident", Sir David told the High Court in London.

In 2003, Lord Condon's successor, Sir John Stevens, decided to go public with the note when Paul Burrell, the Princess's former butler, revealed that he had a hand written note from the Princess claiming her then husband, Prince Charles, was planning to kill her.

Under cross-examination by Michael Mansfield, QC, for Mohamed Al Fayed, Sir David eventually admitted that the note was "potentially relevant" to the French investigation and with "the benefit of hindsight it may have been wiser" to have considered handing it over.

Lord Mishcon had made the note after being summoned to Kensington Palace in October 1995. It revealed that, according to Diana, a "reliable source" had tipped her off about a conspiracy "to get rid or her".

It recorded that she believed the plan included causing "some accident in her car, such as prepared brake failure".

Asked by Mr Mansfield why he did not immediately tell the French police investigating her death – "who needed all the help they could get", Sir David said he and Lord Condon had decided to "monitor" the Paris investigation, adding the crash appeared in no way suspicious. He said had that changed they would have made it public.

"We formed a view that the various facts which had been described to us by Lord Mishcon could be addressed in the way mutually agreed and that was that we could continue to monitor the French investigation and that, if any suspicious factors arose, we would then bring that to the notice of the French authorities," he said.

He rejected Mr Mansfield's suggestion that suspicions should have been aroused after early reports of eye witnesses seeing the path of the Mercedes the Princess was in being been blocked and a dazzling flash fired moments before the fatal impact in August 1997.

Sir David said such claims were not corroborated and there was no reason to believe the French were not doing a thorough and competent investigation. Sir David, who left the force in 2004 and is head of security at the United Nations, added that his decision was influenced by the fact that some of Diana's predictions, including that the Queen was to abdicate in 1996 to give the throne to Prince Charles, had not come true.

He denied sitting on the document, something he called "safe keeping", because he knew MI6 was involved in the car crash, adding that British agents had no hand in Diana's death.

Sandra Davis, a lawyer at Diana's solicitors Mishcon de Reya who attended the secret security meeting with the Princess, told the inquest she felt sick when she heard of the fatal Paris crash.

"My mind jumped to what she had said during our meeting on 30th October 1995," she said.

She added that the Princess's body language at the meeting suggested she didn't want anyone to ask who the "insider" source was, but no-one thought to ask who she feared was planning to kill her.

Maggie Rae, a former lawyer with the firm and who was also at the meeting, said Diana appeared "lonely" and felt "outgunned" and "up against a big machine" because her staff was so small compared to Prince Charles's team.

She admitted that people were simply not taking the Princess seriously when it came to her fears for her life.

At 4pm on October 30, 1995, the late Lord Mishcon, and Ms Davis and Ms Rae, joined the Princess with Commander Patrick Jephson, her private secretary, at Kensington Palace.

Lord Mishcon's note said that while he found the Princess's concerns astonishing, he felt security measures, particularly to her car, should be increased.

"I frankly, however, couldn't believe that what I was hearing was credible," he wrote.

However, he did record in his memo that Commander Jephson "half-believed" her fears.

Lord Condon is due to give evidence tomorrow.
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