Telegraph | Jan 16, 2008
By Gordon Rayner
Diana, Princess of Wales told her solicitors of a plot to tamper with her car so it would crash and “get rid of her” or leave her “unbalanced”, the inquest into her death heard.
A note of the meeting, written by Lord Mishcon, head of the law firm Mishcon de Reya, was given to senior Scotland Yard officers after she was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997. But they did not pass on the document to their French counterparts.
The note’s existence was only revealed six years later, after the Princess’s former butler, Paul Burrell, published a letter in which the Princess made a similar claim.
Michael Mansfield QC, representing Mohamed Fayed, whose son Dodi died alongside the Princess, suggested to Sir David Veness, a former Metropolitan Police commander, that his officers had buried the note because he knew that “the security services or agents of the British state” had murdered the Princess “and you didn’t want this investigated”.
In a heated exchange, Sir David described the suggestion of a cover-up as “reprehensible” and “rejected completely” any suggestion that the Princess was murdered.
Mohamed Fayed believes his son and the Princess were killed by MI6 on the orders of the Duke of Edinburgh to prevent them marrying.
Diana’s fears o being ‘put aside’
The Princess raised her fears about an assassination plot during a meeting with Lord Mishcon and two of his staff, Maggie Rae and Sandra Davis, at Kensington Palace in October 1995.
Lord Mishcon, who was then ill and has since died, visited the Princess to introduce her to the two partners who were to take over her legal work from him.
Lord Mishcon was so concerned about what the Princess said that he made a full note of the conversation, which was read to the jury at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. He wrote: “Her Royal Highness said she had been informed by reliable sources that:
A: The Queen would be abdicating in April and the Prince of Wales would then be assuming the throne.
B: Efforts would then be made, if not to get rid of her, be it by some accident in her car, such as pre-prepared brake failure or whatever, between now and then, at least to see that she was so injured or damaged as to be declared ‘unbalanced’.
“She was convinced that there was a conspiracy and that she and Camilla Parker Bowles were to be put aside.
“She had also been told that (Tiggy) Legge Bourke (the former royal nanny whom Princess Diana believed Prince Charles wanted to marry) had been operated on for an abortion and that she, HRH, would soon be in receipt of ‘a certificate’. “I told HRH that if she really believed her life was being threatened, security measures, including those on her car, must be increased.”
Lord Mishcon set up a meeting with the Princess’s private secretary, Patrick Jephson, who said he “half believed” what the Princess said.
Miss Rae told the court: “It was very clear in my own mind that she thought she was going to be killed.”
But she admitted the lawyers did not take the Princess’s fears entirely seriously and did not inform the police at the time.
How police ‘sat on’ the note
Lord Mishcon arranged to meet Lord Condon, the then Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and Sir David Veness, assistant commissioner for specialist operations, on Sept 18, 1997, less than three weeks after the fatal car crash.
Lord Mishcon handed over his note of the 1995 meeting but it was not passed on to French police. Matters went no further until October 2003, when the Princess’s note to Mr Burrell also referring to fears of a staged car crash, appeared in a newspaper.
Sir David came under intense questioning by Mr Mansfield over why the note was kept secret.
Mr Mansfield said: “It didn’t need Sherlock Holmes, you don’t need to be experienced in the job, that once Lord Mishcon walks through the door on the 18th of September, you knew that this was relevant, didn’t you?”
Sir David said the note was “potentially relevant” but there was no evidence at the time that the crash was anything more than a tragic accident.
He said the three men had agreed that the note “would be treated in the utmost confidence because any leakage could do immeasurable harm and cause needless pain… Lord Mishcon’s concern was above all for the royal princes”.
He added: “We decided to monitor the French investigation and if any suspicious factors emerged then we would review the position.”
Mr Mansfield said: “Were you just sitting on this note because you knew full well that the security services or agents of the British state, maverick or otherwise, had been involved and you didn’t want this investigated?” Sir David said he “rejected completely” that suggestion and described as “reprehensible” any implication that he was involved in a cover-up.
In her note to Mr Burrell, written in October 1995 or 1996, the Princess said: “My husband is planning an accident in my car, brake failure and serious head injury.
” The day after its publication, Lord Mishcon contacted the police to remind them of his own note, which was immediately passed to the coroner in charge of the inquests.
Mr Mansfield said to Sir David: “I’m going to put it to you bluntly: this note would never have seen the light of day unless Paul Burrell had published his (note) and you suddenly all realised you’ve got a problem?”
Sir David said: “No. With regard to the future hearings there would have been a review and it would have been pertinent to consider it in any discussions with the coroner.”
The coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker, asked whether it had been relevant to Sir David that: “Since the note had been written in October 1995 the Queen hadn’t abdicated, Camilla hadn’t been put aside, and until the tragic collision in August 1997, neither had Diana?
Sir David said: “Yes, that was of relevance.”
Did police try to stop the Fayed holiday?
Mr Mansfield suggested that the police had become aware of the Princess’s plans to go on holiday in July 1997 with Mohamed Fayed, who was under investigation over an alleged safety deposit break-in at Harrods and that the police wanted to keep the Princess away from him.
An officer under Sir David’s command informed the Queen of the Princess’s plans, but the Queen already knew. Mr Mansfield put it to Sir David that “there was a desire to keep the Princess away from Mr Fayed and when she refused, things got really hot”. Sir David denied this.
The Princess’s ‘lonely’ life
Miss Rae said she felt the Princess led a “lonely” life and felt “outgunned” by Prince Charles during their divorce proceedings of 1995 to 1996.
“I thought that she lived in a very odd environment,” she said. “I thought she was quite lonely.
“One weekend she told me about she had been alone in this rather lonely set of apartments (in Kensington Palace), she had heated her own food in the microwave, I got the impression that she was a bit lonely.”
During the divorce, she said “she felt she was up against a big machine.
“Prince Charles had a big staff and she had a very small staff and she did feel outgunned”.