The death of Diana was nothing to do with either Fabienne or Robert’s job specifications. Nevertheless Fabienne’s New position meant that she could call up someone she trusted to overview the investigation in france something the rest of mi6 seemed reluctant to do
Royalty Security Service
In May 1997 the general election in the UK resulted in a landslide victory for the Labour Party. Like most government departments the secret service was subjected to extensive reviews. By now Robert King was using E-mail to communicate with Fabienne regularly. It was just low key chit- chat about their hobbies and interests. Nevertheless Robert learned that Fabienne had finished her studies in Political Science and had been appointed as a journalist with Paris Match specialising in the Caribbean and South America. Robert told her about his Management Consultancy activities, but was still banned from mentioning his continuing employment with the British Secret Service. Robert was tempted as there were a number of messages from Fabienne which indicated she was interested in a closer relationship but Robert still had the security conditions of his contract hanging over his head.
On Monday morning 31st August, his preoccupation with the re-emergence of his relationship with Fabienne was totally overshadowed by events in Paris. Diana , Princess of Wales, ex-wife of the heir to the English throne, and mother of the second in line to the throne had died as a result of a traffic accident in Paris. Robert was aroused at four AM and asked to attend a meeting at London airport.
There were only three people at the meeting. Robert himself , Robert’s immediate superior, Rod Ewing and the chief of SIS, Sir David Spedding.
Rod spent little time in coming to the point.
“We have a most unusual situation unfolding in which the DGSE, the French security services, are asking for our help. It seems that one of their operatives believes that some circumstances about Lady Diana’s death points to the involvement of our security services. They want one of ours to be present during all of their investigations so that any findings they make can be validated, possibly challenged. What really surprises me is they have asked for you by name. They say that they believe that you are someone they can trust.” Robert’s eyebrows rose on his forehead, no one in his position could afford to become well known. Rod continued, his face momentarily contorted by a frown “ There was of course the incident in Hong Kong where you were identified, but it was only your alias which was revealed not your real name”
Robert was acutely aware that his loyalty was being questioned. Why would the agents of a foreign government feel that they could trust him? He was clutching at straws. “ The passport I used in Hong Kong? It was a French passport? He looked from one to the other “ Did the DGSE have any involvement in obtaining that passport?
Rod shook his head and glanced at Sir David, he turned to redirect his attention to Robert.“ I would have thought that you would know that yourself”
Robert also shook his head. “No, I had no involvement in the procurement of the passport. I remember being slightly surprised at the decision to make me French.”
Sir David showed every sign of being totally dissatisfied with the conversation. “ Well that could be an explanation for how they know your name, what is still unexplained is why they have such a strong belief that they can trust you”
He asked Robert to leave the room. Whatever conversation took place not take long. Robert was asked to return almost before he had finished reading the newly delivered front page story. The story outlined what was known about Diana’s death. Already there were hints that the death was not an accident. When he returned to the conference room it was clear that the matter had already moved into the operational area. Rod addressed Robert directly without even a sideways glance at Sir David “ Robert tell us in your own words what you have been doing recently.”
Robert replied as succinctly as he could “I was released from my job as Head of the European station to concentrate on issues of technology. There were groups within the European Station who had rapidly embraced the use of mobile phones and the internet. There were others who banned the use of either for operation issues. It became my task to solve the security issues that the use of either of the emerging technologies. As usual the template for the efficient use of new technology was with the CIA but the otherwise successful Gulf War had revealed how easily the new technology could leak vital information to potential or real enemies.”
Rod asked with deceptive innocence, “ and how long have you been out of direct operational control”
“Exactly twelve months” Robert replied.
“Tell us a little more about the technological problems” Rod asked gently
“I found that if I used “experts”, they were predjudiced to believe that all problems were transitory and technology was inevitably able to address every concern. On the other hand if I consulted the sceptics they believed that those who wished to obtain unathorised information for any reason, were actually far ahead of the mainstream development. The divisions over these technological issues made me acutely aware of the fact that the European Station, was for good security reasons, a group of independant cells having only nominal responsibilty to the central authorities..”
Rod and Sir David, exchanged glances. Robert had their complete attention.
“ How indepentant, Robert?”
“ None of them wanted to comply with a central directive which had an impact on their own security. Please remember that even as head of the European station I dealt with appointments, procedures and training , in modern terminology quality issues. In other words I dealt with how the field agents performed their jobs. The projects they pursued, the threats they perceived, the people kept under surveillance were very much the preserve of their controllers and ultimately the departmental directors.”
“ So in your opinion could a specific cell be involved in projects you nothing about?”
Robert had no hesitation. “Absolutely the system is designed to make sure that no one outside the cell knows the current projects, except their controllers and the appropriate directors.
Sir David cut in “ But all the Directors respond directly to me and I review , albeit briefly all the projects.”
Robert looked Sir David in the eye. He now understood where this conversation was going.
“With respect Sir David, all we ever need is a controller or director responding to a different authority and you would know nothing about it. I am not saying that has happened but it could happen”
It was Rod’s turn to interrupt. “We are not comfortable about this, but we have no options but to let you go. The French came in at the very top level and so only the four people in this room know of this request. Unless we are a lot worse at this game than we believe we are the rest of the Security service will know about everything through their own channels within a couple of days. That is what I am giving you Robert. Two days. We will not make any recognition of your new role as far as anyone else is concerned you are still messing about with computers.”
Two hours later Robert was in Paris. Robert went to the Hotel de La Tremoille, just off the Champs Elesee, rang a prearranged number and within fifteen minutes he was walking with a very attractive but severely dressed young woman down the avenue George V, past the Crazy Horse Saloon to the Pont d’Alma, scene of the fatal crash. She quickly established that Robert did speak French but that she would have speak slowly to make him understand. “ Je m’appelle Yvonne.” She told him.
She grimaced as they looked into the bridge underpass from the nearest pedestrian access point. We are still processing witness statements. At the moment what we are telling you is based on statements made to the police but we are checking everything buy a separate set of interviews. It is not easy. The witnesses are very apprehensive as they realise the enormity of what has happened. One of them, a British tourist cannot now be located.“ She pointed at the underpass, “Two lanes in each direction separated by the central pillars. You will see that it is not exactly a pedestrian route. There is probably just enough room to walk out in the case of an emergency and even then I think you would be very nervous at being so close to the traffic. Despite this on the night of the accident witnesses claim that there were people in the tunnel in the period prior to the accident. It of course raises the question what were they doing there.” Robert felt no need to walk through the tunnel but they did take the time to look at it from the other end.
They then walked back to Robert’s hotel where his Yvonne rescued a black Citroen from the garage. It took them only five minutes to reach the Rue Cambon. Yvonne explained that it was even nearer than it seemed. “ You will notice that this part of the city is a nightmare for navigation. Most streets are one way and one can be driven a long way away from the direct route by this system. Rue Cambon itself is also one way from the north to the south.” She slowed to a crawl. “ Here is the back door to the Ritz. Five days ago the back door was almost inaccessible due to road works. As far as we know the car which picked up Dodi Al fayed and Princess Diana stopped here.” Glancing in her rear mirror, she actually stopped to indicate the spot exactly. Robert glanced over his shoulder, the ill fated couple would have had to walk or run about thirty metres. Yvonne continued to talk as Robert made his examination. The majority of the papparitzi were waiting at the main entrance, on the other side of the building in the Place de la Concorde. We do know however that there were at least two photographers in this street.
She handed Robert a map. There had been enough publicity in the paper he had read that morning for Robert to know that the highlighted route on the map indicated Princess Diana’s last fateful trip. The driver crossed two roads and then turned right into the Rue de Rivoli. “ No one actually knows where they were heading that night.” If they were heading for Dodi’s Flat by the Arc de Triumph, They should really have turned up the Champs Elysee and there are two possible ways of doing that. She drove round the Place de la Concord several times to show him the options. Witnesses say that on a night of light traffic both approaches to the Champs Elysee were blocked by stationary cars. Perhaps Dodi and Diana wanted to loose the photographers and drove down to the banks of the Seine rather than wait for the obstructions to clear. She glanced sideways at Robert.”Or perhaps the blockages were deliberate”
In a matter of minutes they saw the Pont D’Alba ahead. “ You will notice that there a couple of exit roads that they could have taken if they were really heading for the Arc de Triumph. Again there are witnesses who say that on the night both exits were blocked by motorcycles. Now hold on tight, we are going through the underpass at the speed most people say the car was going on the night” Robert did hang on, the speed limit was clearly displayed as 50 K but his guide zoomed through at over 110K. She laughed as she came out the far side, seeing Robert’s knuckles turn white “ Now that was hardly a scary experience was it” she chuckled. “ Good wide carriage way, the road almost straight”
“ You speak for yourself” Robert muttered, reflecting that she might be dressed conservatively but there was a devil inside. Her eyes flashed and she moistened her full lips as she relished the moment. Robert was not really uncomfortable. She seemed so competant“Ok that’s enough, where to now”
She laughed again, relishing the moment, “ I can’ t take you to the Piscine.” Robert knew that was the nickname for the DGSE headquarters. “My colleagues do not want to be seen at your hotel so we are all going to the Crazy Horse. It is within walking distance of you hotel and because it is so heavily used by tourists, we use it for our social functions, amongst so many visitors our prescence is hardly noticeable” Robert stared back, whatever its artistic pretensions the Crazy Horse might have was still a strip club. It did not seem the best place to hold a vital investigation. Yvonne noticed his surprised. She gave another version of her engaging chuckle. “ We have booked a private room and the great thing about the Crazy Horse is that the private rooms are really private.” A pause while she reviewed Robert’s obvious concerns. “We will be visiting the local gendarmerie to question witnesses. You can accompany us during those visits if you wish. We will in any case video all witness statements” She paused, another thought occurred to her. “At Crazy horse they have state of the art presentation equipment in the private rooms, so we don’t have to bring it with us”. She glanced down at her suit, business-like almost masculine. “ However it would hardly be credible to go dressed like this, can I use your room at the hotel to change?
It was not yet midday, but Yvonne was taking the preparation process seriously. She took an extended bath. Robert carried on talking to her through the bathroom door. “So what you are telling me is that Dodi and Diana could have been specifically guided to that underpass and that therefore what then happened there could have been preplanned?”
“It is certainly a possibility but my colleagues will give you a complete briefing.” She emerged enveloped in a bizarrely bulky hotel dressing gown. “ Can’t get dry in there , it is so steamy”. She walked to the window and opened it. Her back was towards Robert as she undid the belt of her gown and threw her gown open as she looked out of the window. Robert could see not an inch of flesh above her knees but he saw it as a surprising gesture. It was almost as if he was being tested for his resistance to seduction. What on earth could that be about? She glanced over her shoulder, “Your turn”she said. “ Oh! By the way, wear a suit”
An hour later they left the hotel headed for the Crazy Horse. Yvonnes transformation was unbelievable. Her wavy blond hair now fell to her shoulders. It now could be seen that she had flawless creamy skin, which she now emphasised by the use of eye make up and mascara. She wore a cream dress which fell in a multitude of folds from her shoulders. They entered crazy horse with a multiude of tourists attending the matinee performance. They melded with crowd perfectly. Once inside however their tickets allowed them up a private stairway to one of three private rooms overlooking the stage.
Yvonne pulled the curtains. “We might have a look at that later but we have some hard work first.”
She then commenced to connect a hard drive to the overhead projector. Robert watched her work, testing out the settings and resolution options before finally launching a Powerpoint presentation. “Good God, she’s a techo” was all Robert could think.
They were joined by two other couples. It soon became obvious that the ladies were not simply brought along as camouflage. One of them moved to the head of the table to commence the introduction.
“ Welcome Robert. My name is Dominique.You have already met Yvonne. She indicated the two men across the table. “ Edward and Joseph and….. “ She indicated the third lady “ Gabrielle. Gabrielle brings some special knowledge to our small team. She has practiced as a doctor in the city emergency departments. We are pleased that you could attend. You must be wondering what our objectives are? Robert could only nod.
Gabrielle took over. “ We are in some difficulty, the circumstances of Lady Diana’s death have left us in disarray. It took nearly two hours to get her to a hospital only eight kilometres away and when she arrived the treatment she received was ineffective. There are only two possibilities. Our medical services are totally incompetent or there was massive manipulation of what happened on that night. We need to know which scenario was correct.”
Robert nodded. “There is some concern in the English press, and Yvonne has outlined some of the strange events which occurred before the accident.” But what do you want from me?
Edward protested. “ Robert, Robert we have to assume you are not nieve. We have been told you can be trusted. The circumstances of Lady Diana’s death lead us to believe that it was not an accident. We suspect that segments of the British Secret Service were involved, but we also believe that what happened must have also involved influential people in France. This small group has been commissioned directly by our President. We are currently independent from the rest of our security services. Our task is to uncover any unauthorised by the French or British secret services.
Robert hesitated. His problem was that he knew absolutely nothing. His training kicked in “Tell me everything you know”
Yvonne then lowered the lights and started up the Powerpoint presentation. Robert absorbed every aspect of the presentation. Initially the presentation covered the same material he had already covered with Yvonne but then gave a detailed analysis of what may have happened in the tunnel. He learned that based on what witnesses said another car, a white Fiat Uno had been almost stopped in the underpass in the outside lane causing a traffic hazard to all traffic. A motor bike had then pushed up the inside of the Mercedes 360 carrying Dodi and Diana driving them towards the Fiat. At that point the motor cycle or the Fiat fired some form of strobe light which would have had the potential not only to blind but to disorientate the driver of the Mercedes. The Mercedes hit the rear of the Fiat richoched into the central pillars and then across both lanes to hit the outside wall, hard ! Identifyable white paint was later found on the front bumper of the Mercedes and a broken rear light from a Fiat Uno was found in the underpass.
The lights were then turned on. Robert was somewhat surprised that Yvonne gave the summary.
“If all this evidence is correct then it explains the crash. However it also implies that the crash was choreographed, by someone. Who would have wanted Diana to die? Robert, to turn your question back on yourself, tell us everything you know”
“But not right now” said the silken voice of Dominique“ Lunch, I think” The door opened and trays of canapés and sandwiches and several carafes of wine were carried in. After a few minutes Dominique walked over to Robert and took his arm in both her hands. “ Relax Robert, this is not inquisition we just need to know what you know”
Everyone concentrated on lunch.
“Well Robert” asked Dominique.
Robert cleared his throat.“It seems to me that if all the evidence you have presented to me is correct then the accident was no accident. But it is not necessary that either British or French security services were involved, there are mercenaries who can be hired to do this kind of work“
For the first time Joseph entered the conversation. “Yes and both of our organisations try hard to keep track of mercenary groups. It would require someone with significant knowledge of what is possible to organise all this, which points us back to security services or terrorist groups. But in any case we have not yet considered the case of the driver and the doctor!”
He turned to Yvonne and nodded. She lowered the lights and initiated another powerpoint presentation. The presentation showed another unexplainable situation, earlier in the day, Dodi and Diana had made three trips, Le Bourget to the Ritz, the Ritz to Dodi’s apartment, and from the apartment back to the Ritz. For all three trips the driver was Philippe Dourneau, Dodi’s personal chauffeur. In each case the Mercedes was followed by a Range Rover containing two bodyguards. For the final fateful trip, Phillipe was supplanted by Henri Paul, the head of security at the Ritz. There was no supporting vehicle.
It was Roberts turn to interrupt. “ Is this fact,” he demanded.
Yvonne stopped the presentation. She replied directly “ It is established fact Robert, but wait to see what comes next” She recommenced the presentation. It then showed that police investigations had shown that based on blood samples Henri Paul was hopelessly drunk, was full of drugs and had incredible levels of carbon monoxide in his blood. This should have made Jean Paul totally incapable, yet video of his arrival at the Ritz, meeting with Dodi and Diana and departure showed him to be stable and apparently in control. The video showed him bending down to fasten his laces, something that blood samples taken less than half an hour later indicated should have been impossible.
Again Yvonne stopped the presentation. “The police are making a case that Henri Paul was hoplessly incapacidated and that was the predominantly the cause of the crash. It ignores all the other evidence. Even if Henri Paul were the best driver on earth, what happened in that underpass could have caused the crash. Frankly we do not believe the validity of the blood sample. One other point Robert is that we believe that Jean Paul was in fact an agent of British intelligence. Would you really have sacrificed one of your own? It is possible that Henri Paul had identified a threat and was attempting to take evasive action, only to run into an ambush”
The final part of the presentation dealt with the fact that on the other side of the central pillars in the underpass there appeared to have been only one car which passed during the critical period. That car had carried a doctor who had realised that there had been a major accident on the other carriageway, had stopped passed through the pillars at exactly the correct point and most incredibly had oxygen cylinders and a mask with him. Only minutes later, when the paparittzi arrived he was apparently giving oxygen to Diana. Questions must be asked how he came to be there and what was he actually doing.
Robert was by now genuinely stuck for words “What a mess,” then a question “ can you validate all this”
Much discussion followed. An hour later Dominique called a halt to the meeting. Robert was left with Yvonne. Together they went over all the witness statements in detail. Robert reluctantly concluded that all the conclusions in the presentation were substantially correct. “ Tomorrow! Can I interview the major witnesses”
“Of course” said Yvonne “At least the ones we can still locate! She barked some instructions into her phone.
Robert made a brief report to Rod and offered to make a written report to the British embassy. “ good god no that is the last thing we want you to do. Don’t make any written reports we will debrief you in my office noon on Wednesday.
Robert and Evonne closed their phones at almost the same moment.
“Nothing else to be done tonight. Perhaps you might like to have a drink downstairs. Robert nodded assent. He just wanted to switch off the conficting ideas whirling around in his head. After a couple of glasses of champagne however he realised he was very, very tired. “
The review was very polished. There was a group of dancers on the stage who imitated the drill of a group of soldiers. Yvonne squeezed his hand. “ This is the most exiting review in Paris” she whispered. The girls are naked, not clothed in flesh coloured gauze, look carefully, it is possible to see the difference. “ One girl in particular took Robert’s attention, she seemed to be the one most at ease with the simulated military routine. The girls continually moved in front and around each other and he kept loosing the girl that had attracted his attention. He shook his head, he obviously was very tired, perhaps he was not focusing too well. Nevertheless every time he saw the girl he was reminded of Fabienne. The routine ended.
“I must get to bed or I will fall asleep here. Yvonne smiled and nodded they walked back to La Tremoille.
“I can see that you are a perfect gentleman Robert, you can invite me up for a final glass of champagne if you like”. Robert shook his head. Again he had the strange idea that he was being tested. “No, Yvonne, I think not, I must get some sleep.” They waited whilst the concierge retrieved Yvonne’s car from the garage. Then Robert stuggled to make the automatic key work in the lock. He staggered into the room, tore his clothes of and collapsed into bed. For the first time in eight years he dreamed of Fabinenne.
Yvonne joined him for breakfast and showed him a selection of the French and English newspapers. They were now full of articles about the conflicting evidence and the resulting conspiracy theories.
Robert spent an exhausting day taking part in the team’s own questioning of the witnesses. Some were unavailable having fled the city, presumable overcome by the enormity of what they had seen.
They were particularly interested in who took John Paul’s blood sample and the role of the doctor who had administered Oxygen to the princess immediately after the accident. There were many conflicting pieces of evidence but nothing which fundamentally undermined what. Robert had heard the day before. At six o clock he announced his intention to leave for London that night. He said his goodby’s and thanked them for the opportunity to look at the evidence directly.
Dominique thanked him for not interfering in any way in the progress of their enquiry. She assured him that he would be welcome back at any stage if it was felt to be necessary. Robert felt that there was something else she wanted to say. There was a strange silence which he himself ended by turning to leave the room. Yvonne offered to take him to the airport but again he refused. It was after ten when he boarded his flight. He was asleep berore the plane took off. Again he dreamed of Fabienne , or was it the look alike dancer?
Robert was in Rod’s office just before noon. It was nearly ten minutes before Sir David joined them. There was no doubt he was in a bad mood. “ Bloody circus” he said “Every minister, every head of department, they all have their own theories, they are all asking me to validate them and they are all talking to the press about them. Well Robert what have you got for us?”
Robert reviewed everything he had learned over the two days in Paris. They were an considerate, attentive, asking the odd question, groaning occasional in incredulity but not interrupting Robert’s flow.
Sir David spluttered his frustration.” I am not happy I can tell you, something is leaking like a sieve, much of what you are telling me has already come to me via other sources. He gave Robert a direct fixed stare. “Conclusions?” He snapped.
“ At this point in time they believe Diana was murdered. They are embarrassed by the fingers being pointed at their medical services. They do not believe that Jean Paul was an alcoholic, but believe he was one of our agents. They believe that he may have uncovered a plot to kidnap Lady Diana and was attempting to rescue her but ran into an ambush with different objectives. I do not believe I was being misled. I was allowed to be part of their investigative process. They believe that British Security was involved in the ambush, but they believe that some of their own people were involved as well. They are only now beginning to speculate on motives. They want help from us if we obtain any information from our sources”
“Recommendations” snapped Sir David.
“It must start with you Sir David ”Robert replied” we must identify the cell that Jean Paul was working for if he was indeed working for us. Then we should be able to identify the projects he was involved in and perhaps come to a better understanding of what occurred. As explained the central organisation has no knowledge of the projects of individual cells and will not be able to help through the operations directors and controllers you must query every cell and every project. To enable for this to be done with speed you may wish to set up a new cell responding directly to whom you give a remit to query the activities of every cell. The latter solution will not be popular however as it does cut across our normal security procedures.
Rod looked at Sir David who clearly had nothing else to say. “ Thank you Robert, that has all been useful, please leave us now we must decide what to do.”
Robert King was never involved in any further discussions about Diana’s death
Robert King was never again involved in an operational project
Sir David Spedding retired in 1999.
The results of a French enquiry which appropriated the blame to drunken driving by Henri Paul were published just before his retirement
Two separate British cells and their director were wiped out in the attack on the World Trade centre on 9th September 2001. Robert knew he had been finally sidelined when he was not asked to help in the re-establishment of the cells. It was specifically his area of expertise.
He immediately asked for retirement but was not allowed to retire until the administrative load associated with the invasion of Afganistan and Iraq had lessened. He finally retired 31st January 2004.
A British inquest into Dianas death was commenced on 6th February 2004. The inquest triggered an enquiry by the London Metropolitan Police. At a total cost of $M25 the inquest and enquiry confirmed the French Finding
The inquest revealed however that Sir David Spedding’s three most senior staff were in Paris the night of Diana’s death.
When Robert retired he decided to make more substantial contact with Fabienne. As a hobby he had been constructing his family genealogy and he had decided wanted to write book about his families origins in fourteenth century France. He wondered if Fabienne would help him. She said she would.