To stage an accident to murder the occupants of the car would, in my opinion, require careful, meticulous and co-ordinated planning. The [Operation Paget] team carried out a detailed and thorough investigation of the events leading up to the collusion.
- Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, speaking at the press conference to launch the Operation Paget Report, getting his collisions and collusions mixed up. [BBC video player: 15m 05s]
The John Stevens-Operation Paget report [link] on the allegations surrounding the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul has been published. I wish I could join the chorus praising its thoroughness but, having read most of it, I cannot. If its purpose was to portray Diana POW, Mohamed al-Fayed and ex-MI6 officer Richard Tomlinson as unreliable cranks, it's been largely successful. But there are such gaps in the evidence presented that are unexplained, and other claims that are mentioned but not addressed, that the overall impression I have is of a police inquiry that was either incompetent or worse. When the crash first happened, on the 31st August, 1997, I, like most people, assumed it was an accident, and it has only been as events have unfolded since that I have reluctantly come to suspect otherwise. The Paget Report just about seals it for me.
At the time of the incident, I worked for an NGO that had loose links to the Met. Police. Much of my time away from the office was spent, by choice, online, scouring the internet and Usenet for information that could help me do the day-job better. Several weeks after the crash (September or early October '97), I came across a document that purported to be sourced to the CIA in Paris, was dated '17 June 1997' and which reported that MI6 was actively planning the demise of Dodi in a car crash, at the behest of the Duke of Edinburgh. In its original format, of which I've since lost the original, it was an image of a computer-readout that resembled a fax or telex. [The wording of that document is copied below the fold.] I remember - and memory is a fallible tool - that points seven and eight appeared to have been written by a different keyboard than points one to six.
Not long after I'd seen that document and had copied it to my hard-disk, our contacts in Special Branch dropped by to see us/me. The NGO I worked for was, among other things, a repository of information about its chosen subject, and SB officers occasionally checked with us to see if we had any knowledge or information that could help them. Normally they were quite friendly and laidback, but this time I sensed that they were under extraordinary pressure from above. The officers knew that I spent time online and they asked/ordered me to watch out for and report anything unusual written about Diana's death, including any suggestion that British intelligence was responsible. This was in October or November 1997. Although it was outside of my own and my work's interests I nevertheless agreed, as one does; however, I did not tell them about the 'CIA telex' I had recently copied to my computer, because if its contents were accurate then I wasn't prepared to help SB help the security service (MI5) cover it up.
Things took an odd turn in April 1998. The 'CIA telex' on my hard-disk was among several papers that a former CIA officer Oswald LeWinter was caught trying to pass on to M. Al-Fayed in return for a $20million reward. He had contacted the House of Fayed in about Feb/March '98, who then reported him to the US authorities. The FBI, CIA and US Attorney's Office devised a sting, using Fayed's chief of security John McNamara, and LeWinter was arrested in a hotel in Vienna, Austria. He was tried and sentenced to four years for attempted fraud, and was released after thirty months. LeWinter recalls:
The case about which I can tell you a little was an off-the shelf "company" operation. At my trial, Al Fayed's security chief testified that my arrest was planned in D.C. by CIA and FBI a month before I was taken into custody in Vienna. At the time of my arrest, I was shown documents which were found in my hotel room. I had not seen them until then, since another member of the team in Vienna had given them to me the night before. (The police found no fingerprints of mine on the papers.) I had a choice at my arrest to identify the documents as genuine or as fakes. If I said genuine I would face charges in the U.S. of high treason. I said they were forgeries and was arrested for fraud, tried and found guilty despite the evidence of entrapment. The other team members, one a high ranking "suit" in the agency, all escaped. [link] [my emph.]
Thus the 'CIA telex', which I'd had for months prior to LeWinter's arrest, became officially a forgery that the now-convicted swindler LeWinter had tried to sell to Fayed. LeWinter believes he was set up and I tend to agree with him. He clearly didn't write it himself or he wouldn't have published it on the web months previously. He has an interesting enough history to conclude that he didn't simply download it from the web in the hope of conning Fayed out of $20m. I think he was set up to fail, so that the 'CIA telex' could be written off as a forgery. But why would CIA do that unless the 'CIA telex' was authentic?
The Paget Report never mentions Oswald LeWinter. Yet it was the 'CIA telex' in his possession at the time of his arrest that was, as I understand it, the origin of Al-Fayed's belief that Edinburgh had tasked MI6 to solve the Dodi problem. Stevens mentions Al-Fayed's allegation about Edinburgh, saying it's a very grave one, but he never explains the origin of it. Diana POW's paranoid suspicions about Edinburgh are aired, but the far stronger evidence of the CIA telex is excluded.
Apart from the missing 'CIA telex', other things in the Paget Report seemed to me unsatisfactory. For example:
- Langley message. In the Summer of 2004 the Daily Mail received "an intriguing note" which it passed on to Scotland Yard. The nine-line message was written in a blue felt-tip pen on a torn piece of A4. "If you are brave enough, dig deeper to learn about X and Y," says the note. "Both MI6. Both were involved at the highest level in the murder of the Princess." It is signed off with the words: "Good Luck." The address at the top of the piece of paper is simply 'Langley', the headquarters of the CIA, America's intelligence agency, in Virginia, USA. The Stevens Report makes no mention of it. (X and Y referred to Messrs. Langman and Spearman.)
- Adnan Khashoggi. Not named by Stevens. But he turns up, I think, in the evidence of Richard Tomlinson [p.827]. In 1992 I was working on an operation to recover high-tech weapons from the former Soviet Union. This operation was being conducted in collaboration with a very powerful arms dealer whose exact identity I did not know. When I read the file I discovered that this arms dealer was in very frequent contact with Mr Mohamed Al Fayed. I saw that the MI6 informant supplying this information had a code beginning with P, followed by several numbers. As this source was mentioned several times I tried to find out who it was. It was a Frenchman who was head of security at the Ritz Hotel. Stevens discounts the part about the P source in the Ritz but doesn't address or dispute the claim about the "very powerful" arms dealer whom Al-Fayed saw 'very frequently'. Al-Fayed's first wife Samira, the mother of Dodi Fayed, was Adnan Khashoggi's sister. According to the Paget Report, Dodi had bought a £130k engagement ring for Diana that afternoon and intended proposing imminently. The Daily Express newspaper [caveat lector] cites an author who alleges that Dodi spoke with his Uncle Adnan (by phone?) on the evening of his death - i.e. they were close. The possibility that princes William and Harry would be spending their adolescent summers in Adnan Khashoggi's mansion in Monaco would have been motive enough for Edinburgh, Blair and MI6 to act to prevent it, for justifiable reasons of national security.
- Dominic Lawson/Rosa Monckton. (Background - Husband and wife. Dominic Lawson has been accused of working for MI6 [Indie]. Rosa Monckton's younger brother, Anthony, is an MI6 officer [Cryptome]. By strange coincidence, the SIS's training HQ is at Fort Monckton, Hants. [FAS]) This duo gets off lightly in Stevens' book, in my book. Mohamed Al Fayed wrote to Operation Paget and made this claim [p.661]: 3. 'Trevor Rees-Jones' book, 'The Bodyguard's Story' is clear evidence of how he, Kes Wingfield and Ben Murrell were turned against me. The book, which was not written by him but by the security services, is a tissue of lies and deceit designed to denigrate me and to support the British authorities' account that the deaths of my son and Princess Diana were the result of a simple traffic accident. 4. 'The Bodyguard's Story' was written with the co-operation of such people as Martyn Gregory and Dominic Lawson. Paget does not explain that Richard Tomlinson has alleged/revealed that Lawson was, and thus is, an MI6 agent. Later it reports an allegation by MAF that: Dominic Lawson's wife is Rosa Monckton and her brother is a serving senior MI6 agent (a statement which is almost accurate, except that Anthony Monckton is an SIS officer, not an agent) - anyhow, the Paget Report never followed that claim up either, nor considered its ramifications. Lawson's wife Rosa Monckton met and got close to Diana immediately after the separation from Charles. She was introduced to her by another friend of Diana, Lucia Flecha de Lima, who would later order Paul Burrell to incinerate Diana's clothes, the ones she had worn the night she died. MAF believes Monckton was used by MI6 to watch over and try to influence Diana; I do too. Stevens says there "is no evidence" to support this claim (a phrase that is repeated 87 times in the report. (BTW, 'no evidence' alone appears 204 times; Khashoggi, never; LeWinter, you kidding?) After Diana PoW's first visit to the Fayeds' yacht in St. Tropez and before the fateful weekend in Paris, Rosa Monckton took her on a private cruise of the Aegean. Given her family connections, I presume that Rosa was seeking to prise Diana away from Dodi, apparently without success.
- Nevertheless, several things seem to have been confirmed or revealed by Operation Paget. Dodi was about to propose to Diana. The Mercedes was blocked from taking its normal route and was forced to go by the Alma underpass. None of its occupants, not even the bodyguard, was wearing a seat-belt. When Operation Paget inspected the Mercedes, it found that the seat-belt of the right-rear seat, Diana's place, was "jammed in the retracted position"  - however, it concluded that it had been damaged by the crash itself. It doesn't reveal whether the seat-belts were manually or electronically operated - could the Mercedes have been electronically tampered with so as to prevent the seat-belts from being used? PC Paget doesn't ask that question.
I've written this, my first blog-entry for weeks, because nobody else seems to have critiqued the Paget Report in any detail that I've seen. If anyone can point me towards such a thing, please do. Despite what people might have read widely in the press, John Stevens' report, while exhausting to read, is far from exhaustive in its treatment of the evidence, such as there is, that might support the theory that there was an SIS-centred conspiracy to dispose of Dodi Fayed and that, whether deliberately or not, Diana, PoW was killed in its execution.