Category Archives: Assassinations

Sirhan lawyers: Bullet was switched and he was hypnotized before Robert Kennedy assassination

Associated Press | Nov 28, 2011

LOS ANGELES — Lawyers representing convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan argue in newly filed court documents that a bullet was switched in evidence at his trial and new forensic details show he is innocent of the 1968 killing of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

In the latest of many appeals filed on behalf of Sirhan, the attorneys are seeking to overturn his conviction. They repeated a previous assertion and presented reports from experts who said Sirhan was programmed through hypnosis to fire shots as a diversion for the real killer.

Prosecutors had no comment, said Lynda Gledhill, a spokeswoman for the California attorney general’s office, which is handling the appeal.

The lawyers, William F. Pepper and Laurie Dusek, also said sophisticated audio tests recently conducted on recordings from the assassination night show 13 shots from multiple guns were fired — five more than Sirhan could have fired from his small pistol.

Authorities have claimed eight bullets were fired, with three hitting Kennedy and the rest flying wildly around the kitchen and striking five other victims who survived.

Paul Schrade, who was struck by gunfire, refused to comment on the new filing, saying he is working on his own new analysis of the assassination.

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Pepper and Dusek argue that before Sirhan’s trial, someone switched a bullet before it was placed in evidence because the bullet taken from Kennedy’s neck did not match Sirhan’s gun. The lawyers suggest a second gun was involved in the assassination, but they do not know who fired it.

Pepper said the new evidence outlined in a 62-page federal court brief filed in Los Angeles is sufficient to prove Sirhan is innocent under the law.

“They put fabricated evidence into court before the judge and jury” Pepper told The Associated Press. “We are satisfied that for the first time in 43 years of this case we think we have the evidence to set this conviction aside,”

The motion was filed last week in federal court in Los Angeles

Whether it has any chance of success is questionable, said leading appellate lawyer Dennis Fischer of Santa Monica.

“It’s a longshot in the longest way,” he said, “but they certainly are raising intriguing questions.”

He said the passage of time weighs against defense appeals, with courts tending to ask what took so long to raise the issues. However, he said federal courts frequently are willing to take a closer look at cases in which governmental misconduct is alleged, even if it is long after the fact.

“The current thinking by the U.S. Supreme Court is these things need to end,” said Fischer. But he added in case with such historical importance, “No one will ever be satisfied.”

Sirhan, now 67, a Palestinian immigrant, was denied parole after a hearing last March where he denied any memory of shooting Kennedy on June 5, 1968, moments after he claimed victory in the California presidential primary.

Parole officials said he doesn’t understand the enormity of his crime that changed U.S. history.

Pepper and Dusek are the latest attorneys to take up Sirhan’s case after his conviction and argue on his behalf before parole boards and courts.. All of his appeals have been turned down. Pepper, who has taken on other unpopular cases including that of Martin Luther King assassin James Earl Ray, stepped in after Sirhan’s previous lawyer died.

At trial, Sirhan took the witness stand and said he had killed Kennedy “with 20 years of malice aforethought.” He later recanted the confession. Prosecutors introduced in evidence handwritten diaries in which he wrote: “RFK must die.”

The latest filing by Pepper and Dusek relies heavily on a report by audio analyst Philip Van Praag who did tests on an audio recording made by a news reporter during the shooting. The expert concluded that 13 shots were fired and that none of the sounds on the recording were echoes or other anomalies.

The report also claims that the sounds of gunfire were not isolated to one spot in the room but came from different directions.

The lawyers also contend that Sirhan did not have adequate assistance of counsel at trial, noting that his chief attorney, Grant Cooper, decided Sirhan was guilty at the outset and never pursued available defenses.

The Sirhan defense team settled on a claim of diminished capacity and never denied that Sirhan was the shooter of Kennedy, the brief noted.

“Defense counsel did not pursue the issue of a possible substitution of another bullet,” the brief said.

Acknowledging “the difficulty of retrying a case of this vintage,” the lawyers asked that the sentence be set aside and Sirhan set free.

“Petitioner fully understands that he is likely to be deported to Jordan where he would hope to quietly live out the rest of his life with family and friends, but at long last he would, at least, have received long delayed justice,” the filing states.

As an alternative, they asked that the judge set an evidentiary hearing to reexamine the case.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Gaddafis just knew too much


Embrace: Tony Blair lifted sanctions on Libya and became a close ally of Gaddafi

What dirty secrets can Saif tell the world?

Daily Mail | Nov 25, 2011

By Peter McKay

There was always something fishy about our so-called triumph in Libya. For a start, our mission statement — saying we were preventing Gaddafi’s forces from killing civilians — was phoney. We were there to kill the Gaddafis.

Although it was low-risk, shooting-fish-in-a-barrel stuff, neither ourselves, the French, nor the Arab League would have done it without American support.

But why do it at all? President Assad of Syria has killed far more innocent people and we threaten him with sanctions, not bombs.

Because Gaddafi was easy meat. It allowed David Cameron and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, at low cost, to stride the world stage as military leaders.

We didn’t have a clue about the character of those who rose against Gaddafi. We pretended they were simple patriots fighting to end his cruel, 41-year dictatorship.

Professor Hugh Robert, who specialises in North African history, says in a London Review Of Books article, Who Said Gaddafi Had To Go?: ‘The Western media generally endorsed the rebels’ description of themselves as forward-looking liberal democrats, and dismissed Gaddafi’s exaggerated claim that Al Qaeda was behind the revolt. But it has become impossible to ignore the fact that the rebellion has mobilised Islamists and acquired an Islamist tinge.’

As for Libya embracing democracy, the country’s interim ruling body, the National Transitional Authority,  says Sharia law will determine future governments, pre-empting any elected body. And now we learn that Tripoli’s new military commander, Abdul Hakim Belhadj, used to train Al Qaeda recruits.

When the rebels executed Gaddafi, who was found hiding in a storm drain after a Nato air strike, we expressed regret in perfunctory, ‘accidents-will-happen’ terms. Now Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib says Gaddafi’s captured son, Saif al-Islam, ‘will receive a fair trial under fair legal processes which our own people have been deprived of for the past 40 years’.

In other words — despite helping them get rid of the Gaddafis —  we should keep our noses out of  their affairs.

So, discussions here turn on whether Saif might now reveal details of his pre-downfall friendships with the likes of Tony Blair, Prince Andrew, Peter Mandelson and wealthy banker Nat Rothschild.

This could help his defence against war crimes charges if he was prosecuted by the International Criminal Court at The Hague. But would it work in Libya?

He could ask distinguished old friends to testify that he was determined to bring a measure of democracy to Libya. Perhaps they’ve  written letters to him acknowledging this. That may resonate at The Hague, but in Tripoli…?

In 2003, Tony Blair introduced a UN resolution which lifted sanctions against the terrorism-sponsoring state. He publicly embraced  Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli.  Blair remained in touch with the Gaddafi family after they came under attack from rebels.

Prince Andrew was ultra-chummy with the Gaddafis, making several visits to Tripoli. He is also said to have entertained Saif at Buckingham Palace  and Windsor. For all I know, Saif even had tiffin with the monarch herself.

Nat Rothschild entertained Saif in New York, England and at his Corfu villa. Then Business Secretary Lord Mandelson — a chum of Rothschild’s — met Saif at the Corfu villa. Bachelor boys who got on famously.

Saif may summon senior officials from the London School of Economics (LSE), where he obtained a PhD. There are suspicions he was given help with his thesis there by distinguished Establishment figures. The college’s director, Sir Howard Davies, had to resign after it was disclosed that Saif’s charitable foundation  subsequently gave the college a £1.5 million donation. Such generosity!

Last year — after being invited to give a speech at the LSE — Saif was introduced by Professor David Held (one of his academic advisers when a student at the college) as ‘someone who looks to democracy, civil society and deep liberal values for the core of his inspiration’. Call Professor Held for the defence!

Certainly there are issues on which Saif — if he’s allowed to speak — may bring clarification. The mysterious process whereby madman Muammar Gaddafi was embraced by his former enemies in the West after renouncing terror and giving them access to his oil. How did that work?

The Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, for which Gaddafi paid huge compensation to the  victims’ families but at the same time denied responsibility. (Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the atrocity, thinks quite plausibly that the Iranians were responsible for Pan Am 103, taking revenge for America’s guided missile cruiser, USS Vincennes’ shooting down of an Iran Air  Airbus 300, killing 290 people.)

None of what Saif might say necessarily reflects well on our politicians — Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat. Nor on the Americans, our Secret Intelligence Service, the Royal Family, Big Oil and the banking sector. Not forgetting the London School of Economics.

Whichever way you look at it, the Gaddafis just knew far too much, didn’t they? They had to go.

Secret Whitehouse panel can put Americans on “kill list’


In an ironic turn, Obama, who ran for president denouncing predecessor George W. Bush’s expansive use of executive power in his “war on terrorism,” is being attacked in some quarters for using similar tactics.

By Mark Hosenball

Reuters | Oct 6, 2011

(Reuters) – American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.

There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.

The panel was behind the decision to add Awlaki, a U.S.-born militant preacher with alleged al Qaeda connections, to the target list. He was killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen late last month.

The role of the president in ordering or ratifying a decision to target a citizen is fuzzy. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to discuss anything about the process.

Current and former officials said that to the best of their knowledge, Awlaki, who the White House said was a key figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate, had been the only American put on a government list targeting people for capture or death due to their alleged involvement with militants.

The White House is portraying the killing of Awlaki as a demonstration of President Barack Obama’s toughness toward militants who threaten the United States. But the process that led to Awlaki’s killing has drawn fierce criticism from both the political left and right.

In an ironic turn, Obama, who ran for president denouncing predecessor George W. Bush’s expansive use of executive power in his “war on terrorism,” is being attacked in some quarters for using similar tactics. They include secret legal justifications and undisclosed intelligence assessments.

Liberals criticized the drone attack on an American citizen as extra-judicial murder.

Conservatives criticized Obama for refusing to release a Justice Department legal opinion that reportedly justified killing Awlaki. They accuse Obama of hypocrisy, noting his administration insisted on publishing Bush-era administration legal memos justifying the use of interrogation techniques many equate with torture, but refused to make public its rationale for killing a citizen without due process.

Some details about how the administration went about targeting Awlaki emerged on Tuesday when the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, was asked by reporters about the killing.

The process involves “going through the National Security Council, then it eventually goes to the president, but the National Security Council does the investigation, they have lawyers, they review, they look at the situation, you have input from the military, and also, we make sure that we follow international law,” Ruppersberger said.

LAWYERS CONSULTED

Other officials said the role of the president in the process was murkier than what Ruppersberger described.

They said targeting recommendations are drawn up by a committee of mid-level National Security Council and agency officials. Their recommendations are then sent to the panel of NSC “principals,” meaning Cabinet secretaries and intelligence unit chiefs, for approval. The panel of principals could have different memberships when considering different operational issues, they said.

The officials insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive information.

They confirmed that lawyers, including those in the Justice Department, were consulted before Awlaki’s name was added to the target list.

Two principal legal theories were advanced, an official said: first, that the actions were permitted by Congress when it authorized the use of military forces against militants in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001; and they are permitted under international law if a country is defending itself.

Several officials said that when Awlaki became the first American put on the target list, Obama was not required personally to approve the targeting of a person. But one official said Obama would be notified of the principals’ decision. If he objected, the decision would be nullified, the official said.

A former official said one of the reasons for making senior officials principally responsible for nominating Americans for the target list was to “protect” the president.

Officials confirmed that a second American, Samir Khan, was killed in the drone attack that killed Awlaki. Khan had served as editor of Inspire, a glossy English-language magazine used by AQAP as a propaganda and recruitment vehicle.

But rather than being specifically targeted by drone operators, Khan was in the wrong place at the wrong time, officials said. Ruppersberger appeared to confirm that, saying Khan’s death was “collateral,” meaning he was not an intentional target of the drone strike.

When the name of a foreign, rather than American, militant is added to targeting lists, the decision is made within the intelligence community and normally does not require approval by high-level NSC officials.

‘FROM INSPIRATIONAL TO OPERATIONAL’

Officials said Awlaki, whose fierce sermons were widely circulated on English-language militant websites, was targeted because Washington accumulated information his role in AQAP had gone “from inspirational to operational.” That meant that instead of just propagandizing in favor of al Qaeda objectives, Awlaki allegedly began to participate directly in plots against American targets.

“Let me underscore, Awlaki is no mere messenger but someone integrally involved in lethal terrorist activities,” Daniel Benjamin, top counterterrorism official at the State Department, warned last spring.

The Obama administration has not made public an accounting of the classified evidence that Awlaki was operationally involved in planning terrorist attacks.

But officials acknowledged that some of the intelligence purporting to show Awlaki’s hands-on role in plotting attacks was patchy.

For instance, one plot in which authorities have said Awlaki was involved Nigerian-born Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner on Christmas Day 2009 with a bomb hidden in his underpants.

There is no doubt Abdulmutallab was an admirer or follower of Awlaki, since he admitted that to U.S. investigators. When he appeared in a Detroit courtroom earlier this week for the start of his trial on bomb-plot charges, he proclaimed, “Anwar is alive.”

But at the time the White House was considering putting Awlaki on the U.S. target list, intelligence connecting Awlaki specifically to Abdulmutallab and his alleged bomb plot was partial. Officials said at the time the United States had voice intercepts involving a phone known to have been used by Awlaki and someone who they believed, but were not positive, was Abdulmutallab.

Awlaki was also implicated in a case in which a British Airways employee was imprisoned for plotting to blow up a U.S.-bound plane. E-mails retrieved by authorities from the employee’s computer showed what an investigator described as ” operational contact” between Britain and Yemen.

Authorities believe the contacts were mainly between the U.K.-based suspect and his brother. But there was a strong suspicion Awlaki was at the brother’s side when the messages were dispatched. British media reported that in one message, the person on the Yemeni end supposedly said, “Our highest priority is the US … With the people you have, is it possible to get a package or a person with a package on board a flight heading to the US?”

U.S. officials contrast intelligence suggesting Awlaki’s involvement in specific plots with the activities of Adam Gadahn, an American citizen who became a principal English-language propagandist for the core al Qaeda network formerly led by Osama bin Laden.

While Gadahn appeared in angry videos calling for attacks on the United States, officials said he had not been specifically targeted for capture or killing by U.S. forces because he was regarded as a loudmouth not directly involved in plotting attacks.

Doctors raise money for new David Kelly inquest against cover-up of his killing


Dr Kelly had spoken of “dark actors” and feared he would be “found dead in the woods”

Doctors unleash legal challenge over inquest Dr David Kelly never had

Daily Mail | Aug 28, 2011

By Miles Goslett

Doctors are preparing to challenge the Government’s decision not to hold an inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly.

In June, Attorney General Dominic Grieve ruled one out after telling Parliament evidence that the weapons inspector killed himself was ‘overwhelmingly strong’.

He was responding to legal papers sent to his office by the doctors.

But now they have told the Daily Mail that they still believe it vital that a coroner consider the case and are seeking a judicial review of Mr Grieve’s decision.

The doctors said they had spent ‘a considerable amount of time reflecting on the situation’ and had read Mr Grieve’s recent response ‘extremely carefully’.

But they concluded that there were matters which he did not address satisfactorily and they felt ‘a duty’ to carry on with their campaign.

This month the doctors were given a 33-page legal opinion by Aidan O’Neill QC, a colleague of Cherie Blair at Matrix chambers in London, indicating that Mr Grieve’s decision could be judicially reviewed, paving the way for an inquest. They are now set to proceed, managed by solicitors Withers LLP.

Following a meeting with John Cooper QC last week in which they discussed how the case would be taken forward they have now asked to be represented by him during the judicial review.

The doctors are acting because they believe there are unanswered questions about Dr Kelly’s death.

Speaking on behalf of the other three doctors involved in the case, Dr David Halpin said: ‘We need to raise about £50,000 to cover stage one legal fees to take this to the High Court but we believe this must be done. Britain has great potential for good but many people know it is now mired in mendacity. They must help the doctors get light into the dark corner of the Dr Kelly cover-up. Truth must out.’

The lawyers must be formally instructed by August 30 so that proceedings can begin by September 8, the legal deadline by which the judicial review must be under way.

The doctors’ decision is likely to cause significant unease within Whitehall.  No full explanation has been supplied for closing down the inquest into Dr Kelly’s death, which began as a matter of routine immediately after his body was found. It was replaced with a public inquiry chaired by Lord Hutton, who did not hear witness evidence under oath.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one former MP told the Mail that Dr Kelly’s death ‘almost certainly encompassed highly sensitive matters of national security which is why there was no inquest’.

Dr Kelly, a world-renowned weapons inspector, allegedly killed himself after being named as the prime source of a BBC report accusing Tony Blair’s government of lying to take Britain into the Iraq war.

His body was found in woods close to his home in Oxfordshire on July 18 2003. He had booked a return plane ticket to Baghdad, where he worked, on the morning he disappeared.

The Hutton Inquiry found that he killed himself after slashing his wrist with a blunt pruning knife and overdosing on painkillers.

Mr Grieve was presented with fresh evidence by the doctors and others questioning the official finding and highlighting irregularities.

This included the fact that there were no fingerprints on five items found with Dr Kelly’s body: the knife he allegedly used to kill himself, a watch, his mobile phone, an open water bottle and two blister packs of pills he supposedly swallowed.

Despite the police knowing about the lack of fingerprints at the time this was never raised at the Hutton Inquiry and was only established years later using the Freedom of Information Act.

There is also photographic evidence suggesting Dr Kelly’s body was moved after it was found.

Last year it emerged that in 2004 all medical and scientific reports relating to his death – including photographs of his body – were secretly classified for 70 years.

Much of the material affected by this highly unusual gagging order has still not been released and no legal explanation for it has ever been made.

Mr Halpin added: ‘Coroners,  not politicians, should determine how, where and when someone has died. That is our law in our country. There is an element of David and Goliath here.’

If you would like to donate, visit The Dr. David Kelly Inquest Fund

Dead hacking scandal whistleblower was afraid of the Government and spoke of a “conspiracy”


Former News of the World reporter Sean Hoare has been found dead. Picture: AP Source: AP

Sudden death of News of the World whistleblower shocks colleagues

He would  have been called to appear at  criminal proceedings brought by police against senior editors and executives at News International.

theaustralian.com.au | Jul 19, 2011

by Alex Ralph

THE sudden death of Sean Hoare, the former News of the World reporter who blew the whistle on phone hacking at the paper, has stunned former colleagues and those connected with the investigations into the scandal.

As the first former News of the World reporter to claim publicly that his old friend and boss Andy Coulson had “actively encouraged” him to hack into voicemail messages, Mr Hoare, who was thought to be in his forties, was likely to have been a key witness in the judicial inquiry into hacking. He would probably also have been called to appear at any criminal proceedings brought by police against senior editors and executives at News International.

Friends of the pair said that Mr Coulson, who is holidaying in Cornwall, was shocked by the latest development.

Officers were called to a first-floor flat at a modern block in Watford yesterday morning after concerns for Mr Hoare’s welfare were raised by a family member. His body was found and he was pronounced dead shortly after ambulance and police arrived.

Details surrounding Mr Hoare’s death were unclear last night, with the police yet to inform family members or formally to identify the body. Two officers were on duty outside the entrance last night and the curtains were drawn.

In a statement, Hertfordshire Constabulary said the “death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious”.

Inspector Rod Reeves said that a family member had become concerned when Mr Hoare had not returned calls. He would not comment on where Mr Hoare’s body was found in the flat, but said he was alone.

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He is understood to have lived in the block with his partner, Jo.

A neighbour said: “I feared the worst a couple of months ago. He wasn’t looking in great shape physically. He was not his usual, bubbly, friendly self.”

Another neighbour said Mr Hoare was “paranoid” about people seeing him and spoke of a “conspiracy” and that he was afraid of the police and the Government. “He talked about all sorts of problems that he had in his life. A lot of it was alcohol-related. His passage through life has not been an easy one.” The neighbour added: “He said he was in trouble and he was worried about people coming to get him.”

Tributes were paid to Mr Hoare on Twitter last night with David Yelland, a former Editor of The Sun, writing: “Sean Hoare was trying to be honest, struggling with addiction. But he was a good man. My God.”

Mr Hoare was sacked from the News of the World by Mr Coulson because of the effects his drink and drug problems were having on his health. Mr Hoare, who had previously worked with Mr Coulson on The Sun’s Bizarre showbiz section and later at the Sunday People under Neil Wallis, was notorious on Fleet Street for his destructive lifestyle.

He told a fellow journalist of his “rock star’s breakfast” – Jack Daniels and a line of cocaine. He said he took three grams of cocaine a day, which cost him about $1500 a week.

“Everyone got overconfident. We thought we could do coke, go to Brown’s, sit in the Red Room with Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence. Everyone got a bit carried away,” he once told The Guardian.

Former colleagues said that his dismissal had left him bitter and resentful. In an interview with the New York Times he claimed that Mr Coulson not only knew of phone hacking at the News of the World but he had “actively encouraged” it. He said he had played tape recordings of hacked messages for Mr Coulson. His allegations were heavily rejected by his former boss, who had become David Cameron’s Director of Communications in May last year.

He made stronger allegations in a subsequent interview with the BBC, claiming Mr Coulson had personally asked him to hack phones and that the practice was “endemic”.

In September last year he was interviewed by police about his claims but would not make a further comment, according to Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions. He was understood to be affronted when John Yates, then the Met’s Assistant Commissioner, instructed officers to interview him as a suspect, rather than as a witness.

Then, a week before his death, he made separate allegations again to the New York Times that reporters at the News of the World had paid police to use technology to locate people using their mobile phone signals, a technique called “pinging”.

Although he was known to be in ill health and smoked and drank, he was still active. He recently attended a weekend children’s party and had been injured taking down the marquee. He told The Guardian that he had broken his nose and injured his foot when he was struck by the pole.

One neighbour said last night: “He was physically going down hill. He was yellow in colour and wasn’t looking well for the last month and was off sorts and I was really worrying about him.

“He had a constant struggle with alcohol and talked to me about how much he had put his wife through. He was talking about how he was in trouble and that he thought someone was going to come and get him, but I didn’t known whether to believe half the stuff he was saying. He did say something about phone hacking and I think that was his main worry.”

Al Fayed: The Queen is a ‘gangster in a tiara’ and Prince Philip is a ‘Fred West-style psychopath’


Anger: Mohammed Al Fayed watches on as the four royal crests that once adorned the walls of Harrods go up in flames

Mohammed Al Fayed burns the Queen’s coat of arms from Harrods for ‘cynical’ documentary

Daily Mail | Jun 26, 2011

Mohammed Al Fayed has burnt the royal crests that used to adorn the wall of Harrods as part of a TV documentary on the death of Princess Diana.

Al Fayed also brands the Duke of Edinburgh a ‘Nazi’ in the film, which will not be shown in Britain because it is far too libellous,

In the controversial scene Al Fayed is pictured standing in the grounds of his country estate near Oxted in Surrey.

As the royal warrants burn in the background, he says: ‘I am destroying these royal crests as a tribute to my son Dodi.

‘I feel that he is looking down on this today.

‘There was a clear verdict of unlawful killing, so why has nobody been arrested? What is at the core of all this is racism.

‘Powerful people in this country — my country — don’t want to hear me talking about Prince Philip’s Nazi background, but I have to, because it is 100 per cent true.

‘They wouldn’t accept me or my son, and when he fell in love with Diana, they murdered him.’

Entitiled Unlawful killing, it was directed by actor Keith Allen, father of the pop singer Lily Allen.

It has already provoked outrage for showing a sickening close-up photograph of Princess Diana just moments after the crash in Paris in 1997.

It was shown at a private viewing at the Cannes Film Festival last month where it was roundly panned and described as ‘ludicrous’, ‘cynical’ and ‘cruel.’

In one scene the Queen is labelled a ‘gangster in a tiara’ while Prince Philip is described as a ‘Fred West-style psychopath’.

In 2000 Al Fayed removed the four royal coats of arms that had adorned the exterior of Harrods; those of the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and the Queen Mother.

Hugo Vickers, the royal historian and author, told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘It does seem vindictive and in very bad taste to burn the warrants but I suppose it’s up to him. He was the shopkeeper.’

Al Fayed funded the €2.4m production himself. It reportedly would have required 87 cuts before it could comply with British libel laws.

It is due to be screened in public for the first time at the Galway Film Fleadh in Ireland on July 6.

Distribution deals have also been secured in Russia, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland, and there is also interest in the US.

An inquest in 2008 ruled that Diana and Dodi Fayed were unlawfully killed, but blamed their deaths on their driver, Henri Paul, and the paparazzi.

Mr Vickers added: ‘It is a great pity that Mohammed Fayed persists in peddling these myths when the inquiry into Diana’s death has proved all the allegations were complete nonsense.

‘It is rather sad. I had seriously hoped he had given up on this after the inquest’s final verdict.’

Director Keith Allen has defended the documentary saying there was something ‘extremely fishy about what happened in the Alma tunnel in 1997 and in the Royal Courts of Justice a decade later’.

Writing in the Daily Mail last month, he defended the decision to publish the controversial picture.

He said: ‘The photo is not used in the film for the purpose of shock. It is included as evidence, because it shows clearly that, although Diana had been injured in the crash, she was alert and very much alive. I repeat: it is not a picture of a dying woman.

As medical evidence presented at the inquest confirmed, if Diana had been taken promptly to hospital by Dr Jean-Marc Martino, she could well have survived.

Instead, due to a series of delays that have never been properly explained, it took one hour and 43 minutes to get her to a hospital just a couple of miles away, by which time her life was ebbing away.

We briefly use one photograph as part of a sequence which asks: why was she not taken to hospital more quickly? What took place within Dr Martino’s ambulance (inside which she remained for well over an hour)?

Why is Dr Martino’s evidence greatly at variance with the known facts? And why did no official inquiry ever interview (or even name) most of other people in the ambulance?

Bavarians mourn mysterious death of their Swan King

thelocal.de | Jun 11, 2011

Around 1,500 people gathered at Lake Starnberg outside Munich on Monday to mark the 125th anniversary of the death of Bavaria’s most famous monarch – “Mad” King Ludwig II. Conspiracy theories still linger over his apparent suicide.

The open-air memorial service was held near the cross that marks where Ludwig’s body was found.

In his sermon, the priest Johannes Eckert paid tribute to the monarch’s life. “He lived in a tension between idealism and reality,” he said, before adding that Ludwig constantly yearned to find beauty in everything.

But not all Bavarians are so reverential to their erstwhile king. A satirical “anti-monarchist swim” was also due to be held in the lake on Monday.

On top of that, the secret society known as the Guglmänner announced their plans to hold a ceremony. The Guglmänner see themselves as protectors of the Bavarian monarchy and are largely responsible for the conspiracy theories surrounding Ludwig’s death.

Ludwig II was found dead in shallow waters of the lake, along with a psychiatrist, on June 13, 1886. He had been declared unfit to rule a few days earlier by his government, apparently suffering from mental incapacity, thought to be clinical insanity – though this modern diagnosis has been disputed.

The official report returned a verdict of probable suicide, but conspiracy theorists believe he was shot.

Occasionally referred to as the Swan King, Ludwig is best known for his extravagance and fairytale obsessions, and was responsible for the construction of the spectacular Neuschwanstein palace, which remains one of Bavaria’s most popular tourist attractions.

He was also a devoted patron of the composer Richard Wagner.