Yesterday's Daily Express reported that the Met. Police's inquiry in to Diana, Princess of Wales's death is taking longer than expected. It was headlined "DIANA: POLICE CANNOT RULE OUT MURDER", and subtitled "Paris death crash may have been deliberate" (by Richard Palmer and John Twomey). It read, in part:
Detectives investigating the death of Princess Diana have revealed that they cannot rule out the possibility she was murdered.
The sensational disclosure was made as senior officers on the long-awaited inquiry said they could not disprove the welter of conspiracy theories, many claiming the crash was deliberate, which continue to shroud Dian's death.
Instead of being able to dismiss it as a terrible accident, police admit that the deeper they have probed, the more mysterious their investigation has become. Lord Stevens, the former Met chief leading the £2 million inquiry into the Princess's death in a 1997 Paris car crash, had hoped to file his report next month after originally setting himself a likely finishing date of December 2004.
But his team is not now expected to report to royal coroner Michael Burgess until the end of this year at the earliest, delaying an inquest into the death of Diana and her lover until at least January.
One source close to the inquiry, codenamed Operation Paget, said the investigation into the Paris crash had proved far more complex than detectives imagined.
"They have not been able to eliminate the possibility that the crash was caused deliberately. It was thought they would rule out the various conspiracy theories quickly but the more they investigate, the deeper the mystery becomes", the source said. The revelation will fuel the suspicion of those - including Dodi's father Mohamed al Fayed - who believe that British agents killed the pair, possibly because the Establishment was worried about Diana's relationship with a Muslim.
One of the key areas of concern for the inquiry team is evidence that Henri Paul, the chauffeur who perished with Diana and Dodi in their Mercedes in the Paris underpass that fateful August night eight years ago, regularly worked for MI5 and MI6.
Detectives are focusing on claims that Mr Paul was a stooge led into a trap by MI5 [sic], which is then said to have orchestrated the accident by creating a bright flashing light that temporarily blinded him before he collided with a mysterious white Fiat Uno which has never been traced.
Checking out Mr Paul's links with British agents has proved more difficult than police imagined.
"The whole thing has been delayed. They've got much more still to look into so they're just not going to be ready to finish before the end of this year," a source close to the inquiry team said.
Witnesses interviewed by the Paget team have said they have noticed a marked change in attitude in the past few months. "They started out obviously very sceptical of the conspiracy theories and appeared anxious to disprove them but, as time has gone on, they seem to be taking them far more seriously," said one source.
In an indication of the change of attitude, the Scotland Yard team has signalled a different tack in its approach to Diana's claim that her former bodyguard Barry Mannakee was murdered to silence him because they were having an affair. Police are to reinterview a key witness in the Mannakee case, despite suggestions in February that they had ruled out foul play.
Nicola Chopp, who was involved in what seemed a straightforward road accident in which Mannakee, a police sergeant, died in May 1987, is to fly back from her home in America to speak to detectives again. [...]
Ms Chopp, then 17, took most of the blame for the collision and was fined £85 for careless driving, But she has always insisted there was something more to it.
Police investigators said the accident might have been caused, in part, by the blinding glare of headlights from another vehicle - which was never traced.
The Operation Paget team is taking the conspiracy claims seriously, particularly after receiving a statement from Diana's former lover, James Hewitt. The ex-cavalryman confirmed that the Princess was convinced Mannakee had been murdered and said that an MI5 agent had warned him he would meet the "same fate" if he kept seeing Diana. [...]
My comments below.
I've written this up because the Express doesn't have a website - most of the typos are mine.
CBS claims that this Express story was a spoiler to draw attention away from Camilla's first solo public engagement. Perhaps the timing was deliberate, but there's a genuine story being reported here. Originally the inquiry was to report last winter. Then March. In January this year, the then-Sir John Stevens said that he'd report in the summer; now it's nearly summer, and he'll report in the winter. The delay is itself a story, and is some vindication for the sceptics.
The reporters bizarrely ascribe the Paris operation to MI5, when any fuel nose it was MI6. Could they be confused by the Mannakee case, or might their source be being deliberately obscurationist? If the latter, it adds to his or her credibility.
Diana PoW believed Mannakee been murdered, and it's alleged that a similar means of assassination was used for both Mannakee and Diana. But unless the Mannakee operation was an MI6 one on home soil, which I suppose is possible, then re-opening the Mannakee case seems to me to be a distractiion.