The murder of Princess Diana: the conspiracy that won’t die

A shroud of strange coincidences, missing evidence and sinister unanswered questions continue to hang over the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. In this article I’m going to home in on the three big ones: the white Fiat Uno, the lack of CCTV, and Henri Paul’s blood…

Diana’s death is Britain’s JFK. It remains the nation’s most talked-about conspiracy theory. The fact that the 2007 inquest failed to delve deeply enough into the possibility that the princess was murdered has kept conspiratorial tongues wagging ever since.

Now, as I’ve mentioned before—many times—I’m not a conspiracy theorist. But Princess Diana’s death has always disturbed me. There’s a LOT that doesn’t add up. Does that mean I believe she was murdered by government agents as part of an elaborate royal plot? Not necessarily. But I’m open to the possibility that she could’ve been.

Let’s talk first about Henri Paul, the man who drove Princess Diana to her death in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel on August 31st 1997, killing himself and Dodi Fayed in the process. Officially, as of the 2007 inquest, Henri Paul is guilty of the “unlawful killing” of the princess through negligence—specifically that he was driving while drunk. He’s been accused of having connections with the security services, disappearing for several minutes for unknown reasons shortly before the fateful journey from the Ritz Hotel, and secretly communicating with the paparazzi. But I want to talk about one thing: his blood.

Henri Paul’s blood

The French investigation into Diana’s car crash concluded that Henri was drunk, his blood containing three times the French legal limit. A British pathologist hired by Mohammed Al-Fayed, Dodi’s father, disputed this. Henri Paul’s parents did not accept that their son was drunk, and maintain that he always took his responsibilities as a driver seriously. Material evidence reveals that Henri only purchased two alcoholic drinks, and on hotel CCTV, he shows no signs of being intoxicated.

This led to one of the most famous Diana conspiracy claims: that Henri Paul’s blood was swapped with that of a deceased drunk driver in order to place the blame for the crash squarely on him.

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King William II murdered in the New Forest?

On 2nd August 1100, while hunting in the New Forest, William II met his maker at the end of an arrow. It was deemed an accident, and yet something about that day continues to raise eyebrows. Could the Red King have been murdered?

The mysterious death of King William II—nicknamed William Rufus or the Red King because of his ruddy complexion—is one of the first things I remember learning about in History when I got to secondary school. It stuck with me because of the mystery and conspiracy theory that continues to surround the incident to this day.

Our view of the hunting expedition on 2nd August 1100 is murky at best. Contemporary chroniclers have tried to piece together the events, but all of them had agendas and none were eyewitnesses. The earliest mention of the event is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which records that William II was “shot by an arrow by one of his own men”. Later chroniclers gave the name of William’s killer as nobleman Walter Tyrrell, sometimes spelled Tyrell or Tirel.

The most extensive contemporary account comes from William of Malmesbury, writing in circa 1128—so still almost 30 years after the event. He says that the king dreamed he was going to Hell the night before the hunt and that the Devil had said to him, “I can’t wait for tomorrow because we can finally meet in person!”

The next morning, William and his hunting party headed out into the New Forest. Walter Tyrrell was present. So was William’s younger brother, Henry, along with several other lords. William forbade them from leaving his side but, as the hunt began, William and Tyrrell ended up separated from the rest. Apparently, Tyrrell went to shoot a stag but missed, his arrow plunging into the king’s chest.

Tyrrell fled the scene and hightailed it to France. The king’s body was discovered by a poor charcoal-burner called Purkis, who placed the body in his cart and conveyed it to Winchester Cathedral.

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TV Review – Fearless Season 1 – everything Paranoid wasn’t

This six-part 2017 British TV series is everything a good conspiracy thriller should be. And it’s everything 2016’s Paranoid was not.


Paranoid felt like it was written by a five-year-old with a big book of conspiracy clichés close at hand. Risible characters, panto performances, juvenile—sometimes nonsensical—dialogue, and a plot that was as original as a bar of soap, and as subtle as a hammer to the face.

Fearless is light years ahead in every respect. Brilliantly written by Patrick Harbinson of 24 and Homeland fame, it’s the epitome of what I look for in a conspiracy thriller. A gripping mystery, full of shady characters with hazy motives colluding to bury the truth while our protagonist seeks desperately to uncover it. In this case, our protagonist is a lawyer, Emma Banville, defending a guy, Kevin Russell, who went down for murder 14 years ago but has always maintained that he didn’t do it. Helen McCrory, playing her, is wonderful. Her performance is nuanced, convincing and profoundly affecting in a way Indira Varma as lead character Nina Suresh in Paranoid painfully wasn’t.

The premise is hardly new to the conspiracy genre—lawyer discovers that her client accused of murder is being set up by powerful forces seeking to hide something bigger—but it doesn’t have to be. It’s what you do with it that matters. The plot you build out of it. And Fearless’s plot is relentlessly compelling. Conspiracy thrillers are typically a lot more complicated that your basic whodunit. They have to be. Because lots-of-people-dunit. Their mysteries have to be multi-layered, each layer thicker than the one before. Fearless’s mystery is just that. At multiple points during the six episodes I found myself shouting at the TV, “What the hell is going on?!” Paranoid, on the other hand, wanted to be complicated, but was a baby pretending to be a grown-up. Every plot development was so obvious that it made Nina Suresh and her buddies look like the stupidest cops on the planet.

The first episode of Fearless spends its time building the characters and making us wonder about the guilt of Kevin Russell, accused of murdering a teenager called Linda Simms in 2003. As to whether Russell is guilty, involved somehow with Simms’ death but not guilty of murder, or wholly innocent of it, the show doesn’t tell us right away. However, by the end of the first episode, we know that there are some unseen cogs in this machine. There’s a telephone call between a mysterious old man played by Michael Gambon and an equally mysterious American woman played by Robin Weigert, strongly hinting at a cover-up to do with the Russell case.

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The Princes in the Tower: Britain’s most famous missing persons case

The unexplained disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, aka 12-year-old Edward V of England and his nine-year-old brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, is one of Britain’s coldest cases. Five and a half centuries on, it remains the subject of debate and conspiracy theory. But are we any closer to the truth?

When King Edward IV of England died on April 9th 1483, his son, also Edward, succeeded him as Edward V. Because he was only 12, his uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was supposed to act as Lord Protector of the Realm till he came of age. This didn’t quite go to plan. Richard sent both Edward and his younger brother to the Tower of London, supposedly in preparation for Edward’s coronation. But the coronation never happened. Instead, Richard took the throne for himself and the little princes disappeared.

A game of thrones

On his deathbed, Edward IV named his brother, Richard of Gloucester, Lord Protector of the Realm until his son reached maturity. However, Elizabeth Woodville—Edward IV’s wife and queen consort and Edward V’s mother—wasn’t too thrilled about this. She and her family either didn’t trust Richard or wanted to seize power for themselves in the wake of the king’s death (or both).

In any case, Elizabeth ordered her own brother, Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, who was looking after Edward V at Ludlow Castle, to bring the boy king to London immediately to be crowned. And she told him to bring an armed escort of 2000 men. Whatever her motive, it certainly looked like Elizabeth was preparing to do battle with her brother-in-law.

But Richard, aware of what was going on, intercepted Edward V and Anthony on their way to London. Also present was Richard Grey, Edward V’s half-brother (the product of Elizabeth Woodville’s first marriage), and Thomas Vaughn, Edward’s chamberlain. Richard met them at Stony Stafford and dined with them, lulling them into a false sense of security before arresting all three men for treason the following morning. (They were later beheaded at Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire.) When the boy king protested the arrests, Richard told his nephew of a plot to deny him his role as Lord Protector, and that his guardians had been a part of it. He then escorted Edward V to London himself.

On hearing of her brother and second-eldest son’s arrests, Elizabeth Woodville fled into sanctuary at Westminster Abbey with her daughters and nine-year-old son, Richard of Shrewsbury.

Edward V and Richard of Gloucester arrived in London together. At the time, Richard still promised his nephew he would be crowned, but postponed the date from 4th May to 22nd June. On 19th May, Richard sent Edward to the Tower of London because, at the time, the Tower was the traditional residence of monarchs prior to their coronation.

In early June, Richard wrote to a number of important lords asking for their support against “the Queen, her blood adherents and affinity” because he suspected Elizabeth Woodville and her cohorts of plotting his murder. At a Privy Council meeting on 13th June at the Tower of London, Richard accused Lord Hastings of conspiring with the Woodvilles against him. It is said that Hastings was dragged out of the Council chambers and immediately beheaded in the courtyard.

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A conspiracy proven true: Snowdon blows global surveillance wide open

Do you ever get the feeling you’re being watched? It’s not paranoia. You are…

Edward Snowden, formerly a systems administrator for America’s National Security Agency (NSA), has been called hero, patriot, and traitor. In 2013, he leaked classified government information about multiple global surveillance programmes operated by the NSA and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance. The documents revealed that the NSA and Five Eyes—which consisted of the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand—were spying on their own and each other’s citizens and sharing the information.

Big Brother is real

The novel 1984 by George Orwell introduced us to the character and concept of Big Brother. In the novel, Big Brother is the purported leader of a totalitarian state whose citizens are under constant surveillance by the authorities. The book gave us the phrase “Big Brother is watching you”, which has come to be associated with prying by authority figures, and in particular, illicit mass surveillance by government. The reality TV franchise Big Brother is based on the novel’s concept of being watched constantly, going about your day-to-day life.

Conspiracy theories about mass surveillance have been commonplace since the novel’s publication in 1949. But the idea that we’re being watched by the elusive ‘They’ has long been shrugged off as the fancy of the paranoid.

Not anymore. Mass surveillance really happens, and it’s worse than we think.

Shock state snooping

When Edward Snowden joined the NSA, he learned about their colossal surveillance capabilities, including their ability to map the movement of everyone in a city using a unique identifier in their electronic devices. They also logged nearly every telephone call made by Americans, and bugged European Union offices in Washington and Brussels.

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Oswald and the KGB — shock revelations in the JFK files

Kennedy’s limousine, seconds after he was shot

The truth is out. The long-awaited JFK files are here and reveal that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone. There really was a second shooter, firing from the grassy knoll. And as many of us have thought for decades, we finally know that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.

Just kidding.

October 26th 2017 was the day scores of conspiracy theorists had been dreaming of for years. The day thousands of secret documents related to President Kennedy’s death would be released, as stipulated by the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.

The Act came into being because of the 1991 Oliver Stone movie JFK, starring Kevin Costner, which popularised the notion that agents inside the FBI, the CIA and the US military were all involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the president. The records were originally supposed to be sealed until 2029—as stated at the end of the movie—but because the US government was so concerned by the conclusions presented in the film, they pushed through the 1992 Act to release them early.

Of all the documents released, one in particular got tongues wagging: the previously classified 1975 deposition of former CIA director Richard Helms. Helms was asked about Lee Harvey Oswald, but the testimony suspiciously cut off right before the juiciest part, when Helms was being asked whether Oswald was working for the CIA. Naturally, UK newspaper The Sun got a serious stiffy over this and plastered “COVER UP!” across its front page.

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My short story “The Bisley Boy” has been shortlisted by Artificium

A nice email dropped in my inbox today. It was from Artificium, an independent publisher that runs short story competitions every spring and summer, and publish an anthology of short fiction, flash fiction and poetry two to three times a year.

The email contained the shortlist for their summer competition and my name was among them! The full title of the story that has been shortlisted is “The Bisley Boy” (Extracts from Margery Ingleby’s journals — Modern English translation).

If anyone’s heard of the ‘Bisley Boy’, you’ll have an idea as to what this story’s about. It’s another Million Eyes short story and is inspired by a famous English conspiracy theory that dates back to Tudor times. I won’t tell you what it is (as it’s technically a big-ass spoiler) but I’ve written an article about it if you want to know!

At the moment it’s just been shortlisted and I believe it gets published in Artificium only if it makes it to the top four. The results are announced at the end of this month — eeek!

This week: Are we any closer to knowing who really killed JFK?

Is “Stranger Things” based on a true story?

Eleven in ‘Stranger Things’

The world’s talking Stranger Things now that Season 2 has hit Netflix. But did you know that there might actually be some truth to the story of Eleven, the Demogorgon and the portal to the Upside Down?

Stranger Things was originally known as Montauk and Montauk is a name that’s pretty familiar to conspiracy theorists. It’s believed that between 1943 and 1983, the US government conducted secret experiments on children at Camp Hero in Montauk, Long Island, that have long been dubbed the ‘Montauk Project’.

The experiments were said to have involved time travel, teleportation, mind control, and contact with extra-terrestrial and extra-dimensional creatures. They were allegedly a continuation or extension of developments of the Philadelphia Experiment that took place in 1943. And some of the experiments, as you’ll read, bear a striking resemblance to the happenings in Stranger Things.

The story of the Philadelphia Experiment goes like this. On a quest to find new ways of foiling Nazi radar during World War II, the US military conducted secret experiments at the naval shipyard in Philadelphia involving a destroyer escort called the USS Eldridge. According to the letters of an eyewitness, Carlos Miguel Allende, which surfaced in the 1950s, the US military were successful in teleporting the USS Eldridge to New York, another dimension where it encountered aliens, and forwards in time. These teleportations resulted in the deaths of several sailors, some of whom ended up fused to the ship’s hull.

Stories about the Montauk Project popped up much later. In the early 1980s, a man named Preston Nichols claimed to have recovered a series of repressed memories about working on secret experiments at Camp Hero in Montauk. He said that during the 1970s, he worked on something called the ‘Montauk Chair’, a piece of furniture that used electromagnetism to amplify the psychic powers of certain ‘special’ children.

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