Scotland Yard said last night it was “scoping” new information about the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi al-Fayed. The new file, passed to the Metropolitan Police by Royal Military Police officers, includes allegations that a former SAS soldier claimed to know who “arranged Princess Diana’s death and that it had been covered up”.
The allegation is contained in a letter written by the former parents-in-law of an ex-serviceman. The letter emerged during the most recent court martial of former SAS sniper Danny Nightingale, 38, who was convicted of possessing a gun and ammunition. The former soldier accused of having knowledge of Princess Diana’s death is an ex-colleague of Sgt Nightingale.
Diana, Dodi and their chauffeur Henri Paul died on August 31, 1997 in a car crash in Paris. An inquest found they had been unlawfully killed because of a lack of seatbelts, excessive speed and Mr Paul’s drink-driving.
A three-year police re-investigation of the circumstances – Operation Paget – rejected previous claims of murder by Dodi’s father, former Harrods owner Mohamed al-Fayed.
A Scotland Yard statement said: “We are scoping information in relation to the deaths and assessing its relevance and credibility. The assessment will be carried out by officers from the specialist crime and operations command. This is not a re-investigation and does not come under Operation Paget.”
A spokesman for Mr Fayed said he had no comment to make, but that he will be “interested in seeing the outcome”, adding that he trusts the Met will investigate the information “with vigour”.
An inquiry into the death of a man shot dead by police eight years ago has concluded that he was unlawfully killed. Azelle Rodney, who was 24, died after the car he was in was stopped by armed officers in London.
An official report found the police marksman who shot Mr Rodney had no reason to believe he had picked up a weapon – so there was “no lawful justification” for killing him.
The officer who fired the fatal shots could now face criminal charges after the case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Mr Rodney’s mother Susan Alexander said the report backed her view that her son was “executed” and demanded an apology from Scotland Yard.
Former High Court judge Sir Christopher Holland released his findings following the public inquiry into the shooting in Edgware, north London in 2005.
The VW Golf in which the victim was travelling with two other men was stopped by officers who feared the trio were on their way to stage an armed heist on Colombian drug dealers and had an automatic weapon capable of firing 1,000 rounds per minute.
Mr Rodney was shot six times, once each in the arm and back and four times in the head.
Sir Christopher’s critical conclusions raise the possibility of the officer, known only as E7, facing criminal charges for the shooting.
He found that even if the armed officer believed Mr Rodney had picked up a weapon, it was disproportionate to fire the four fatal head shots.
E7 told the inquiry that he had seen Mr Rodney start moving around, reaching down and then coming back up with his shoulders hunched.
But Sir Christopher’s report dismissed this account, which was also contradicted by eyewitnesses.
It said: “E7’s accounts of what he saw are not to be accepted. Prior to firing he did not believe that the man who turned out to be Azelle Rodney had picked up a gun and was about to use it.
“Further, on the basis of what he was able to see, he could not rationally have believed that.”
The officer has written to the inquiry to claim that the findings against him are ” irrational”.
Three guns were found in the Golf – a Colt .45 calibre pistol, a Baikal pistol and a smaller gun that looked like a key fob.
The Colt was not loaded, the Baikal was loaded but was not cocked and the safety catch was on, and the key fob gun was loaded, cocked and the safety catch was off.
During the 11-week public inquiry it emerged that E7 had previously shot two men dead during an incident in the 1980s, and injured another two.
Inquests into the men’s deaths later found that they had been lawfully killed, and the officer received a commendation from the-then Metropolitan Police Commissioner for his conduct.
The two injured men were later tried and jailed.
Sir Christopher found that Operation Tayport, which led to Mr Rodney’s death, was not run in a way that would minimise the threat to life.
He also concluded that the “hard stop” on the Golf “fell short of the standards set by the MPS”.
Drivers were not supposed to deliberately ram the suspect car but two of the police cars did.
The firearms officers were also supposed to be wearing police caps, but the two that could be seen in a video of the shooting were not.
Two officers also fired rounds into the tyres of the Golf after it had been rammed and hemmed in by unmarked police cars.
Sir Christopher has recommended that Scotland Yard now nominates a senior officer to carry out a review of the operation.
Speaking after the report was published, Mr Rodney’s mother Susan Alexander said: “I do not seek to justify what Azelle was doing on the day he died, but he was entitled to be apprehended and, if there was evidence, to be charged and brought before a court of law to face trial before a jury.
“The fact that he was strongly suspected in being involved in crime does not justify him or anyone else being summarily killed.”
She said she did not want any further delays in investigating what happened to her son, and asked for apologies from the police and watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said: “I have read the findings carefully and want to express my personal sympathy to Mr Rodney’s family.
“The MPS deeply regrets his death, and I recognise how distressing the inquiry must have been for them.”
He said the force accepts recommendations made by Sir Christopher about how officers are debriefed after firearms operations.
The CPS said in a statement: “Following the publication of the report into Mr Rodney’s death, the IPCC has written to the Director of Public Prosecutions to ask that we review the case in light of new evidence provided to the Public Inquiry.
“This review will be completed as soon as practicable, in close liaison with the IPCC and in accordance with the Attorney General’s undertaking to the inquiry.”
A serving police officer and a member of the public were arrested in the “Plebgate” inquiry yesterday, prompting claims of a wider “cover up” by supporters of Andrew Mitchell, the Cabinet minister forced to resign over the affair.
A 48 year-old male constable in the Metropolitan’s Diplomatic Protection Group was arrested early yesterday on suspicion of misconduct in a public office.
It is understood the officer was on duty at the time of the Plebgate incident but police are still trying to establish if he was present in Downing Street at the time.
A 49 year-old woman, who is not a police officer, was arrested at a separate address on suspicion of assisting an offender.
They were being questioned by detectives at separate police stations yesterday.
The latest arrests were triggered by a letter sent by David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, which highlighted apparent discrepancies between the findings of Scotland Yard’s leak inquiry and a separate legal action.
Close friends of Mr Mitchell said the arrest of further suspects showed the Metropolitan Police’s original investigation had been flawed.
Only a “forensic” analysis of the evidence by outsiders showed important suspects had been missed, they added.
The development will put further pressure on Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Met Commissioner, who is already facing allegations that he broke his own rules by secretly briefing journalists on the findings of the inquiry.
He admitted no notes had been kept of a Press briefing in March which led to reports – now thrown into doubt by the latest arrests – that officers had not lied over the Plebgate incident.
Last night Mr Davis said: “I did what I thought any decent police officer would do and look at all the publicly available evidence in a forensic manner.”
Mr Mitchell, who was the Government’s chief whip at the time of last September’s incident, was forced to resign after he admitted swearing at officers on duty in Downing Street when they refused to open a gate for his bicycle.
It was later alleged that he had called the officers “******* plebs” – a claim that appeared to be backed up by official police logs of the squabble. But Mr Mitchell denied using the work “plebs”.
Supporters of the former chief whip claimed factions within the police had lied about his behaviour in a bid to “toxify” him, due to acrimony between police and the government over changes to their pay and conditions.
Friends of Mr Mitchell said yesterday’s arrests were triggered by a letter from Mr Davis to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) earlier this month which disclosed that a “supposed other witness” had emerged.
The letter was prompted by disclosure of legal documents in Mr Mitchell’s separate libel action against The Sun newspaper over its reporting of the Downing Street row. He is suing the paper for defamation.
Mr Davis told the IPCC, which is supervising Scotland Yard’s inquiry, codenamed Operation Alice, that a woman had telephoned the tabloid the day after the incident to provide a “slightly more garbled” account of the contact between police and Mr Mitchell.
However, CCTV images from cameras in Downing Street showed there were no women nearby at the time of Mr Mitchell’s confrontation.
Supporters said the “only logical conclusion” was that the telephone call was a “put-up job”. They added that there was now evidence of a “real conspiracy” and a “cover up” because there were now “two people masquerading as witnesses – one of them a police officer”.
The arrests bring the total made in the inquiry to six so far.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “As the investigation continues, officers continue to work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service and pursue all lines of inquiry.”
Police arrested 31 demonstrators this afternoon as BNP supporters and anti-fascist campaigners clashed outside the Palace of Westminster today.
The majority of those arrested are thought to have been supporters of United Against Fascism, and the BNP group cheered as handcuffed demonstrators were led onto a red double decker bus which had “Special Service” as its destination.
The fighting came despite calls for peace from police and the family of soldier Lee Rigby, who was hacked to death in Woolwich last month in what police are treating as a terrorist attack.
One BNP supporter who suffered a large cut to his nose said: “I’ve put my best suit on today and come out for a peaceful demonstration and this is what’s happened. And to think they call us thugs!”
BNP activists holding banners saying “hate preachers out” were heavily outnumbered by anti-fascists with “smash the BNP” and “say no to Islamaphobia” signage.
The group of counter-protesters chanted “fascist scum” and “you racist Nazis” at their rivals.
Nick Griffin, whose party was banned by police from protesting in Woolwich over fears of “serious disruption to the life of the community” and the potential for “serious disorder”, arrived at around 2.30pm to the sound of the national anthem.
The BNP leader said the tragic murder of Lee Rigby would not be an “isolated” incident, adding: “We’re pointing out that it will happen again and again and again until the West disengages with Islam and they leave our country.”
Dozens of police attended the demonstration, accompanied by sniffer dogs deployed to calm the situation as tempers flared.
Scotland Yard said that the anti-fascists had gathered in a pre-arranged penned area – but some were unwilling to remain within that area.
A spokesman said: “Due to police concerns about serious disruption to the life of the community, and the potential for serious disorder should this counter protest confront the BNP organised protest, police have imposed conditions under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.
“Those conditions state that the protest must take place in Whitehall Gardens junction with Whitehall.
“A group of about 300, also believed to be part of the UAF protest, were stopped in Old Palace Yard junction with Abdingdon Street.
“This group have now been notified of the conditions imposed under Section 14 and requested to move to Whitehall Gardens to continue their protest. Officers are in negotiation with this group.”
A TERRIFIED mum told last night how one of Lee Rigby’s killers made death threats against her family two weeks before his chilling attack.
Mary Jones, 33, said Michael Adebolajo was full of “pure hatred” after a petty row between her 11-year-old son and a girl who lives in a neighbouring flat on their estate.
Adebolajo, a friend of the girl’s Somali family, is said to have warned the mum of three: “If anything happens like this again, we are going to take a male out of your family.”
Detained … Adebolajo in Kenya in 2010
Mary, who only told cops of the incident after seeing Adebolajo, 28, in footage of Drummer Rigby’s death, said last night: “That soldier could have been my husband or brother — I just wish I’d gone to police before.”
She recalled how Adebolajo — flanked by three pals — turned up on her doorstep 45 minutes after her son Thomas fell out with a young girl in the playground on their estate in Greenwich, South East London.
Mary said: “They fell out, like kids do. My son threw a ball at her. She said, ‘I’m going to tell my uncles’.
“They then came down and we had a row but went our separate ways.
“About 45 minutes later there was a ‘bang bang’ at the door.
“When I opened it, Michael was there staring back at me in the doorway. He was very menacing. I recognised him but it was still a shock — he talked with pure hatred.
“He was with the two Somali brothers who live upstairs and a woman.
“Michael put a foot in front of my door and said, ‘I’m going to take a male member out of your family’.
“He was staring me in the eye, was right up in my face. I was trembling, absolutely terrified.
“But after a day or two I tried to forget about it. My kids go to the same school as the girl. I just didn’t want any trouble.”
A fortnight later Mary’s “blood ran cold” as Adebolajo appeared on TV, ranting as he clutched a knife and meat cleaver in his bloodied hands after Drummer Rigby’s killing.
She said: “I felt so sick. I was in hysterics. My partner told me to tell police so I did.”
An armed Scotland Yard anti-terror squad — in an unmarked transit van — swooped on the Somali family’s first-floor flat shortly after 6.30pm on Saturday, arresting two men.
Residents on the estate heard three loud bangs and police confirmed a Taser was used on one man, 28, but he did not require hospital treatment.
Mary said Adebolajo was close pals with the Somali family, who live in a neighbouring flat.
He would often pull up outside the flats in the Vauxhall Tigra later used to mow down Drummer Rigby, it was claimed, and the Joneses saw him four times in the week before the murder.
Adebolajo’s actions seem a far cry from his upbringing in a loving, Christian household in London as the eldest of three children of Nigerian immigrants.
But aged around 15 he met hate preacher Anjem Choudary, who boasts he helped turn Adebolajo to Islamic extremism. Pals claim he became a regular cannabis user and began dealing drugs.
In 2010 he was seized by security forces in Kenya as he travelled to fight alongside Al-Shabaab terrorists.
– THE stabbing of a soldier near Paris was probably carried out by an Islamic terrorist who was inspired by the Woolwich killing, France’s interior minister and police said yesterday.
Private Cedric Cordier, 23, is in hospital after Saturday’s attack, when he was stabbed in the neck from behind while on an anti-terrorism patrol.
His robe-clad assailant, who is still at large, is said to be a 6ft 2in bearded man aged about 30, possibly of North African origin.
A 40-year-old woman, said to be an “illiterate” Indian, was beaten, raped and given out-of-date food and passed between three middle-class families as a domestic worker for many years in Britain, a daily reported.
The woman made desperate pleas for help to Hertfordshire police as well as charities and other state agencies. But when police officers spoke to her, one of her “powerful and well-connected abusers” was used as an interpreter, the paper Independent said.
The woman was handed back to the man, and she was again attacked and threatened that she would be buried in the back garden of the man’s luxury home for ruining his family name.
Three people – an optician, a butcher and a secretary – were convicted of her abuse that spanned more than three years.
The woman was passed between the families, kept like a prisoner, given virtually no money and had her passport confiscated, the report said.
However, when she fled, her pleas went ignored by police and other organisations on at least 12 occasions, according to court documents.
The woman’s ordeal ended only after she was taken in by a migrant workers’ charity and human rights’ group Liberty took up her case.
“Various state agencies failed her, ignoring her repeated pleas for help, not adhering to their own investigative practice and it could be said ignoring the obvious,” Caroline Haughey, counsel for the prosecution, told the Croydon crown court.
The woman came to Britain in 2005 to try to make a better life and to send money to her family in India’s Hyderabad city.
When she sought help, she was threatened by her keepers. In one case, a professional interpreter told police that the woman was “telling a lot of lies – it’s common in her country”, the court heard.
She was first taken to hospital in 2006 with a gashed foot after her “employer” named Shamina Yousuf, 33, hurled a cup at her.
However, no action was taken after she was bullied her into not pursuing matters, the report said.
The woman fled after more than two years but returned to work for other relatives of the family to try to secure the return of her passport.
The court heard that the woman stayed in a one-room flat in St John’s Wood, and was raped by a butcher, Enkarta Balapovi, on several occasions.
The woman finally moved to the home of an acquaintance, Shashi Obhrai and her IT consultant husband Balram, who lived in Middlesex. She was forced to work seven days a week, 17-hours-a-day, cooking and cleaning for eight family members.
Christian Plowman, 39, claims that officers from SO10, the elite covert operations unit of the Metropolitan police, would allow dealers to take amounts of class-A drugs as a form of bribe.
Although not illegal, the practice of officers handing over illicit drugs in return for leads is likely to reignite the debate over the ethics of undercover policing and bring fresh accusations of a lack of control over covert operatives.
“We were treading a line. Often we’d buy some drugs off somebody who would be a junkie and he would promise to take us directly to the dealer the next time, but in return for that he’d want some of the drugs he’d bought for us. We had to be careful that if we agreed to that, he took the drugs himself so he couldn’t say that we supplied him,” said Plowman.
But Plowman said they never sold drugs, unlike detective constable Nicholas McFadden of West Yorkshire police, who was jailed for 23 years last Thursday after stealing more than £1.2m-worth of drugs seized in police raids and selling them back onto the streets.
Speaking publicly for the first time about his experiences as a covert operative since leaving the Met in 2011, Plowman also accused the undercover unit of targeting “low-hanging fruit” instead of individuals at the top of the criminal chain. He said some covert operations became focused upon getting “heads on sticks”, which Plowman said meant “let’s bag as many as people as possible for whatever offence we can”.
As a result, the full-time undercover officer claims he often found himself targeting crack addicts instead of dealers and spying on ordinary people.
Plowman spent 16 years in the Met and was one of around 10 full-time covert operatives. He was a close friend of Mark Kennedy, 43, the undercover officer who had at least one sexual relationship with a woman while infiltrating eco-activists. Plowman has written a book about his experiences, Crossing the Line, which is published next month.
Although he praises his colleagues, the former officer describes the culture of SO10 as riven with machismo, to the extent that undercover officers who requested psychological help were seen as not fit for the job.
“You need a culture where you can go and see a shrink and you won’t be blacklisted, but there was a proper locker-room culture,” said Plowman, who now lives abroad and works as a security manager for a fashion firm. Unable to ask for support and struggling to balance his aliases with his own identity, Plowman admits he contemplated suicide.
He reveals that some former colleagues have threatened him since he left. “One of them said ‘next time you’re in London, I’m gonna headbutt you’, but who’d do that anyway? You’re a policeman for starters.”
Plowman’s last job was working at a north London pawnshop called TJ’s Trading Post that was set up by Scotland Yard to trade in stolen goods, but which he believes operated as a “honey trap” that lured people to commit crime. More than 100 people are believed to have been convicted, many for illegally trading their own passports and driving licences.
Plowman claims the store encouraged people in a poor area to commit offences by giving the impression that they could make easy money by trading ID documents. “They were not people whose arrest would make any visible impact on the community. If TJ’s had never opened, those people would not have been in prison for any offence,” he said.
Other decisions he disagreed with included the apparent mindset among senior officers that criminals maintained the modus operandi of south-east London gangsters in the 1970s, namely cutting deals during heavy drinking sessions. Plowman said he spent weeks drinking in pubs that were believed to be hubs of criminality but in reality were full of ordinary working men.
“They were just normal people. I felt incredibly uncomfortable infiltrating their lives, however minimal the intrusion. I just thought: ‘Why am I here?’ In one pub, the biggest crime I saw was a 15-year-old trying to sell some stolen makeup.”
Before graduating to a full-time position in SO10, Plowman was a “test purchase officer”, which entails police masquerading as drug addicts who frequent street dealers to try to obtain contact details. Even then, Plowman alleges that ambitions fell below what he expected from an elite police unit.
“We ended up buying drugs off proper junkies who were forced to sell them by dealers. They were threatened with violence, were often homeless or their flat had been taken off them by dealers. They shouldn’t have been convicted, in my view.”
He described one infiltration of a crack den in Richmond, south-west London, in which police targeted Jamaicans who had recently arrived in the UK. “These were very low-hanging fruit. These were guys coming over who had either been threatened or had been paid to sell crack. They were farm boys, essentially. But in the police world, instead of saying we arrested three Jamaican farm boys who didn’t know what they were doing, the headline would be: ‘Three yardies arrested’.”