On May 5th 2000, police in the south of France found a burnt body in the wreckage of a car, deep into the woods close to Nantes.
The dead body was so extremely charred that it took a month for the DNA tests to ascertain the victim’s identity.
The burnt man in the car was Jean-Paul ‘James’ Andanson. The millionaire photographer had been one of the paparazzi following Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed during their last days before the fatal crash that killed them.
In 1999, the French investigation concluded that the Mercedes carrying Diana and Dodi had come into contact with another vehicle (specifically a white Fiat Uno) in the tunnel. The driver of that vehicle has never been properly identified (neither has the specific vehicle).
At least seven eyewitnesses to the crash said that they had witnessed the white Fiat Uno and a motorcycle speeding out of the tunnel right after the crash. Forensic tests also confirmed that a white Fiat Uno had collided with the Mercedes that Diana and Dodi were in. Extensive attempts by the French police to find the vehicle involved were apparently unsuccessful.
Jeffrey Steinberg, writing for Executive Intelligence Review in July 2000, strongly linked Jean-Paul Andandson to the mysterious white Fiat Uno from August 1997: just as importantly, Steinberg also drew attention to Jean-Paul Andanson’s links to both British and French intelligence services, as well as other strange occurrences surrounding Andanson (including some extraordinary actions by French intelligence – see original article here).
A French police spokesman informed the media, “He took his own life by dousing himself and the car with petrol and then setting light to it.”
Jeffrey Steinberg’s July 2000 article exploring the mystery of ‘James’ Andanson’s death, highlights the obvious cover-up/cover-story. The story of Andanson having committed suicide appeared to be incongruous, but this didn’t stop officials and newspapers from running with it.
He wrote; ‘In a flagrant effort to dampen interest in the Andanson factor, the June 11 Mail on Sunday, a pro-royalist tabloid, ran a story proclaiming “Wife’s Affair Led to Paparazzi Man’s Car Blaze Suicide.” The Mail on Sunday dutifully peddled the French government’s cover story: “The millionaire photographer who trailed Diana, Princess of Wales in St. Tropez just days before her death, committed suicide when he discovered his wife was cheating on him, French police have revealed. . . . The eccentric millionaire – who was hailed by colleagues as one of the godfathers of paparazzi photography, and who flew a Union Flag over his house to show his love of Britain – was facing a family crisis at the time of his death”…’
The Paget report states that when the car was found, Andanson’s body was in the driver’s seat of the car, and his head was detached and lay between the front seats. There was a hole in his left temple. The French pathologist concluded this hole was caused by the intense heat of the fire rather than, more logically, a bullet wound.
It has to be said that, as suicide methods go, locking yourself in your car and burning yourself to death seems both extreme and unnecessary.
At any rate, Andanson’s strange and horrific death – and his connection to the deaths of Diana and Dodi, as well as to intelligence agencies – provided a very meaningful epilogue to the Diana/Dodi death story, helping fuel the conspiracy theories that, by then, were already rampant.
Andanson’s story is just one reason why it remains very difficult to believe that the death of Princess Diana wasn’t a conspiracy/assassination.
The extraordinary outpouring of public grief and fascination that followed – in which Diana was elevated to a mixture of sainthood and goddess-worship – was something I was fairly immune from at the time, being much more interested in other things. However, even I was able to peek my head up from comic books and rock music long enough to notice that some sort of vast, communal emotional experience was occurring, focusing or drawing in mass consciousness.
This element of collective hysteria becomes all the more interesting – even a touch unsettling – when you factor in the claims by some that the Diana/Dodi crash wasn’t just an assassination, but also an occult ritual/sacrifice; but I’ll come back to that shortly.
But it is always worth remembering that the jury in the official inquest (an inquest that most people regard as a scripted shambles) was in fact forbidden by the judge from being allowed to reach a verdict of murder. In the end, the jury concluded that Diana had been “unlawfully killed” – which is an interestingly vague term and also provided the title for Keith Allen’s 2011 docu-film Unlawful Killing.
The film was denied cinematic release in the UK and the US. While the film admittedly is, at times, excessively harsh towards members of the royal family (particularly Prince Philip, who is depicted as a psycopath), it is difficult to see how any such film couldn’t lean towards the conclusions of conspiracy and cover-up, given the overwhelming evidence.
Unlawful Killing does a reasonable job of tracking some of that key evidence; for example, reminding us of the fact that the scene of the crash had been immediately hosed clean with water by French police – this was precisely the same thing Pakistani authorities did in Rawalpindi ten years later, at the scene of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.
The virtually immediate embalming of Diana’s body had also meant, among other things, that it was impossible for anyone to ascertain if she was pregnant or not (something that was rumoured at the time and that persists to this day).
We also have to remember that no CCTV footage has been made available of the crash, for reasons which have not been clarified. One (anonymous) CCTV operator has been quoted as saying that “Images would have been available if people wanted them to be. The truth is that every excuse possible was made to make sure that live film could be kept secret. This suited lots of powerful people, especially those who wanted to dismiss the crash as a simple traffic accident…”
The absence of CCTV images showing the Mercedes’s journey from the hotel to the crash site has been frequently cited as evidence of an organised conspiracy. According to The Independent newspaper in 2006, there were more than 14 CCTV cameras in the Pont de l’Alma underpass, though none recorded footage of the collision.
Although the ill-fated pair had used a particular Mercedes throughout the day of their deaths, when Diana and Dodi departed the Ritz Hotel (just after midnight on the morning of August 31st 1997), a different Mercedes had been sent to collect them. The vehicle had been changed at the last moment; there was also no backup car present this time, despite this being standard practise (and this having been standard practise for Diana and Dodi until that point).
There were also always the question marks around why it took so long for an ambulance to arrive, particularly in a busy metropolitan city like Paris; with suggestions that Diana – who was alive for some time after the crash – was deliberately kept from hospital for as long as possible. She also, it emerged, wasn’t taken to any of the nearest hospitals. Some reports say it took as long as 40 minutes to cover the 3.7 miles to the La Pitie-Salpetriere (other hospitals were closer to the scene).
By the time, Diana was delivered to hospital, it was an hour and 45 minutes after the collision.
The fact that Diana did survive for some time after the crash has never been in dispute: I still have the Evening Standard paper from that night, with the last-minute cover headline ‘Dodi Dead – Diana Still Alive’, which was put out when the news broke (but too late for the newspaper to cover the details).
Of course, if something like the gruesome death of James Andanson acted as a dark epilogue to the Paris plot, it is worth remembering too that there was also a very significant prologue: in the form of the letter that Diana wrote to her butler, the annoying Paul Burrell, in which she warned they were “planning an accident in my car”.
This was reinforced by the ‘Mishcon Note’, as it is now called, that also had Diana predicting her own death via a staged car accident. Made by her lawyer, Lord Mishcon, the day after speaking to her in 1995, it was handed to police after Diana’s prediction came true in Paris. But the British police kept the note secret for six years; it was only after Burrell revealed his letter from Diana that the Mischon Note was then also released.
Curiously – and although it gets very little coverage – a month before Diana’s fatal crash, Camilla Parker-Bowles also suffered a near-fatal car accident.
Richard Tomlinson is a former MI6 officer who was imprisoned in 1997 for breaking the Official Secrets Act. Tomlinson claimed in a sworn statement to the French inquiry (in May 1999) that MI6 had been involved in the crash, suggesting that the security service had documentation which could assist the inquiry.
He had previously been reported by the BBC to have claimed that the Mercedes’s driver Henri Paul was working for the security services and that one of Diana’s bodyguards, (either Trevor Rees-Jones or Kes Wingfield), was also contact for British intelligence. Tomlinson also claimed that MI6 had been closely monitoring Diana before her death.
Concerning the allegedly ‘drunk driver’ Henri Paul, we do know that he wasn’t supposed to be driving the pair at all.
Trevor Rees-Jones was the only person in the vehicle to survive the crash, but the story has always been that he remembers nothing about the crash due to amnesia caused by his injuries. Curiously, however, despite this memory loss he published The Bodyguard’s Story: Diana, The Crash And The Sole Survivor in 2000 – a book dismissed by some (including Mohammad al-Fayed; who isn’t, in all honesty, the most reliable voice) as having been pretty much written by the intelligence services.
Rees-Jones is reported to done very well for himself in the years since, with various jobs, including working in Texas as a security director for the war-profiteering Halliburton oil company.
Tomlinson also claimed that Diana’s death had mirrored strategies he had seen himself for other assasinations abroad, using a bright light or flash to cause a traffic accident (which would, in theory, account for the bright flash of light allegedly reported by witnesses just seconds before the Diana crash).
Tomlinson has alleged that there exists a secret paramilitary unit called ‘The Increment’, which carries out covert/black ops on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government. According to him, its recruits are plucked from the the SAS and SBS and carry out special assignments with the intelligence services.
There has been suggestion – via the BBC – that SAS elite units on the ground in Libya during the 2011 bloodbath (involving in the bloody collapse of that nation and potentially in the assassination of Gaddafi) had been essentially this same unit or some successor to it (‘E Squadron’).
On that note, there was also a claim elsewhere that the SAS had played a role in Diana’s murder.
The Court Martial of SAS Sniper Danny Nightingale led to a letter being exposed – written by a witness, ‘Soldier N’ – suggesting that the SAS was behind the death of Princess Diana.
While the twentieth anniversary of Diana’s and Dodi’s deaths will no doubt take up a lot of coverage in newspapers and on TV, most of it will focus on the ‘tragedy’ of the accident or on the massive, overblown public reaction that followed. Some might focus on the effect it had on the royal family.
Others will focus on Diana as a person and will continue to excessively canonise her to sainthood. All of it, for the most part, will be more of a nostalgia exercise than anything else, with guaranteed audience figures thanks to people who’ve seemingly never tired of what was essentially a decades-long soap opera with a tragic ending.
Aside from sustaining this endless fascination and playing to the longstanding mania, it is probable that none of it will ask questions about who was behind the fatal crash in Paris and what the motives were.
That’s because the primary newspapers (chiefly The Daily Express and Daily Mail) who sustain and live off the Diana industry – and the conspiracy theories – only do so for the endless soap-opera qualities and because they know their readerships and therefore know it sells papers. They’re not actually interested in any implications beyond that – otherwise they would cover false-flags and all kinds of other significant conspiracy research too (which they don’t).
What seems inescapable, from the evidence, seems to be that Diana and Dodi were killed in a well-staged operation, probably involving elements of the intelligence services, with possible SAS or special forces elements.
Whether this would’ve been carried out with ‘royal assent’, as it were, is difficult to know – but it is unsurprising that many people assume that it was, given who Diana was and how much trouble or embarassment she was causing.
In addition to the various ‘motives’ that have been suggested over the years (the alleged landmines connection, the possibility that Diana was pregnant with what would’ve been an Arab/Muslim child just a few years before 9/11, an impending marriage to Dodi, or just the general nuisance or embarassment that Diana had become to the royals after her divorce from Charles), another significant dimension to the story has been observed over the years too – specifically, the suggestion that it may have also been played out as a ritual/sacrifice operation with occult-based interests in mind.
I’m going to approach that dimension to the Diana assassination in a separate post – because I’m of an old-school sensibility in this regard, in that I don’t think the basic, bare-bones case for the assassination theory should get so loosely mixed up with other, additional speculations or theories (of which there are many), even if they have validity.
At any rate, it is remarkable that the soap-opera-like fascination with the elite/royal family saga continues so strongly – particularly given that (according to the last thing I read) something like 85% of people apparently think Diana was murdered.