Nearly three years after the Paris car crash that claimed the lives of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed, the cover-up of that tragedy has taken a deadly turn, prompting some experts to recall the pileup of corpses that followed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Over the course of four years, after President Kennedy was shot on Nov. 22, 1963, at least 37 eyewitnesses and other sources of evidence about the crime, including one member of the infamous Warren Commission, which oversaw the cover-up, died under mysterious circumstances.
On May 5, 2000, police in the south of France found a badly burned body inside the wreckage of a car, deep in the woods near Nantes. The body was so charred that it took police nearly a month before DNA tests confirmed that the dead man was Jean-Paul "James" Andanson, a 54-year-old millionaire photographer, who was among the paparazzi stalking Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed during the week before their deaths.
From the day of the fatal crash in the Place de l'Alma tunnel, that killed Diana, Dodi, and driver Henri Paul, and severely injured bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, Andanson had been at the center of the controversy.
Mohamed Al-Fayed, the father of Dodi Fayed, and the owner of Harrods Department Store in London and the Paris Ritz Hotel, has labelled the Aug. 31, 1997 crash a murder, ordered by the British royal family, and most likely executed through agents and assets of the British secret intelligence service MI6--with collusion from French officials, whose cooperation in the cover-up would have been essential.
At least seven eyewitnesses to the crash said that they saw a white Fiat Uno and a motorcycle speed out of the tunnel, seconds after the crash. Forensic tests have confirmed that a white Fiat Uno collided with the Mercedes carrying Diana and Dodi, and that this collision was a significant factor in the crash. Several eyewitnesses told police that they saw a powerful flash of light just seconds before the Mercedes swerved out of control and crashed into the 13th pillar of the Alma tunnel. That bright light--either a camera flash or a far more powerful flash of a laser weapon--was probably fired by the passenger on the back of the speeding motorcycle. Both the motorcycle and the white Fiat fled the crash scene, and police claim they have been unable to locate either vehicle, or identify the drivers or the passengers.
Andanson had been in and around Sardinia during the last week of August 1997, as Diana and Dodi vacationed in the Mediterranean. He joined several dozen other paparazzi, who were stalking the couple's every move. He was back in France on Aug. 30, the day that Diana and Dodi flew to Paris. And that is where the facts about Andanson's activities and whereabouts get very fuzzy.
For reasons that he never revealed, sometime before dawn on Aug. 31, 1997, less than six hours after the crash in the Alma tunnel, Andanson boarded a flight at Orly Airport near Paris, bound for Corsica. Andanson claimed that he was not in Paris earlier in the evening, when the crash occurred, but he never produced any evidence, save a receipt for the purchase of gasoline elsewhere in France (which he could have doctored or obtained from another person), to prove he was not in the city.
His son James and his daughter Kimberly told police that they thought their father was grape-harvesting in the Bordeaux region. Andanson's wife Elizabeth claimed that she had been at home with her husband all night, at their country home, Le Manoir de la Bergerie, in Cher, until he abruptly left for Orly, at 3:45 a.m., to catch the crack-of-dawn flight to Corsica.
Pressed on her version of the story, Mrs. Anderson later admitted to reporters and police that her husband was constantly on the run, and she could have been mistaken about the night in question. She told The Express, a British newspaper, "It was always very difficult to recall James's precise movements because he was always coming and going. The family was very used to that and so never paid a great deal of attention to the times he came and went."
What makes Andanson's precise itinerary the night of the fatal crash so vital is this: He owned and drove a white Fiat Uno. The car was repainted shortly after the Aug. 31, 1997 Alma tunnel crash, and was sold by Andanson in October 1997. And, although the official report of the French authorities investigating the crash concluded that Andanson's car was not involved in the crash, French forensic reports made available to The Express told a very different story.
One report in the files of Judge Hervé Stephan, the chief investigating magistrate in the Diana-Dodi crash probe, described the tests on Andanson's Fiat: "The comparative analysis of the infrared spectra characterizing the vehicle's original paint, reference Bianco 210, and the trace on the side-view mirror of the Mercedes shows that their absorption bands are identical." In laymen's terms, the paint scratches from the Fiat found on the side-view mirror of the Mercedes were identical to the paint samples taken from the matching spot on Andanson's Fiat.
The report continued: "The comparative analysis between the infrared spectra characterizing the black polymer taken from the vehicle's fender, and the trace taken from the door of the Mercedes, show that their absorption bands are identical."
In short, despite the French investigators' endorsement of Andanson's alibi, the forensic tests strongly suggested that his car may have been the white Fiat Uno involved in the fatal crash.
John Macnamara, the Harrods director of security, and a retired senior Scotland Yard supervisor of investigations, told reporters: "Mr. Andanson had for some time been a prime suspect who had relentlessly pursued Diana and Dodi prior to their arrival in Paris. We have always believed that Andanson was at the scene and that more investigation should have been done into his possible involvement."
Macnamara added, "We believe that his death is no coincidence and that this is a line of inquiry which may help to discover the truth. Was Mr. Andanson killed because of what he knew? That is a question we want answered."
Needless to say, Andanson's death stirred up renewed interest in Diana's death at a most inopportune time for the British royals, and those in France who abetted the cover-up. Sometime in September, an appellate court in Paris will rule on Al-Fayed's motion to order Judge Stephan to reopen the crash probe, based on the fact that Stephan shut down his probe before certain vital avenues of inquiry were fully explored, and in contradiction to his own interim report, which cited several glaring paradoxes in the evidence that remained unresolved at the point that he abruptly closed down his investigation last year and blamed the crash on driver Henri Paul.
For example, U.S. intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, have all acknowledged, in response to Freedom of Information Act queries, that they have thousands of pages of documents on Princess Diana. Those documents, for the most part, remain under lock and key. In addition to those documents and other relevant evidence, it has been recently exposed that a secret U.S.-U.K. joint surveillance program, code-named "Project Echelon," had apparently been involved in round-the-clock monitoring of Princess Diana's telephone conversations, while she was at home in England and travelling around the globe.
Until the contents of these U.S. government files and electronic intercepts have been reviewed by French investigators, Al-Fayed's lawyers have argued, the probe cannot be considered complete. And the U.S. Justice Department continues to stonewall on indicting three Americans who were involved in an attempted $20 million extortion of Al-Fayed in April 1998, centered around purported "CIA documents" proving that British intelligence assassinated Diana and Dodi. While the "CIA documents" seized from one of the plotters have been confirmed to have been clever forgeries, questions remain about the accuracy of the content of the documents.
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."
Mail on Sunday reporter Ian Sparks quoted an unnamed colleague of Andanson's at the Sipa Agency in Paris, making the preposterously contradictory claim that Andanson "was desperate to save his marriage. We would never have guessed he would do something so terrible." He committed suicide to save his marriage! Right.
A French police spokesman told Sparks, "He took his own life by dousing himself and the car with petrol and then setting light to it."
Andanson's widow Elizabeth, and their son James have rejected the idea that Andanson's death was suicide. Sources close to the family told EIR that they have pressed French officials to conduct a murder investigation into Andanson's death 400-miles from his home. The sources dismiss the bogus "marital problems" story and additionally report that Andanson was in high spirits over his new job with the Sipa Agency.
Just after midnight on June 16, just one week after Andanson's death was first made public, three masked men armed with handguns, broke into the Sipa office in Paris, shooting a security guard in the foot. The three assailants dismantled all of the security cameras in the office, and proceeded to enter several specific offices, clearly aware of exactly what they were looking for. They made off with several cameras, laptop computers, and computer hard drives.
Sipa's office employs more than 200 people, and operates 24-hours a day. The three invaders spent three hours in the office, holding other employees hostage. According to one of the hostages, the men were never concerned about the French police arriving at the scene. This hostage was convinced that the three "burglars" were themselves working for some branch of the French Secret Service. Furthermore, the source confirmed that Andanson had worked for French and, undoubtedly, British security agencies.
The owner of Sipa, Sipa Hioglou, has worked closely with French intelligence, and, not surprisingly, has been one of the primary sources of the "marital problems/suicide" cover story about Andanson's death, "confessing" to French police and reporters that Andanson had confided in him that he planned to take his own life. Hioglou, in the days following the bizarre break-in and hostage siege of his office, also told police that he suspected that the raid was done on behalf of a disgruntled celebrity who was angry that her picture had been taken by a Sipa paparazzo without her permission.
In stark contrast, other Sipa employees have told the police that the idea that Andanson committed suicide was preposterous, and that they suspect that the break-in was related to his death.
The Sipa raid, the obvious work of French Secret Service assets, raises some very troubling questions. If Macnamara and Al-Fayed are right, and Andanson was at the crash site on Aug. 31, 1997, and his white Fiat was the car that collided with the Mercedes, what documentation exists of his presence at the tunnel? What photographs exist of the crash scene, and what do they reveal? Was some of this material seized from the Sipa offices in the recent break-in, to assure that it never sees the light of day?
Evidence has recently come to light, that within hours of the crash, British and French secret service agencies carried out a series of similar break-ins at the homes and offices of several photo-agency personnel, in a desperate search for photos of the crash site that may have been transmitted in the hours immediately after the Alma tunnel collision, and before word of Princess Diana's death was made public.
EIR has obtained copies of sworn statements from two London-based photographers, Darryn Paul Lyons and Lionel Cherruault, which reveal that British intelligence was hyperactive in the hours immediately after the Alma tunnel crash, desperately seeking any revealing photographs that might have been spirited out of Paris.
Lyons identified himself as the "Chairman of `Big Pictures,' . . . an international photographic agency in London, New York, and Sydney, specializing in obtaining and selling unique and exclusive celebrity-based photographs." At 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 31, 1997, Lyons received a phone call from a Paris paparazzo, Lorent Sola, who said that he had a dozen photographs of the accident at the Alma tunnel. Sola offered to electronically transmit the photos to Lyons immediately, and Lyons rushed off to his office, receiving the high-resolution photographs at approximately 3 a.m. Lyons immediately began negotiating with several large news organizations in the United States and Britain to sell the pictures for $250,000.
Lyons and Sola conferred after word of Diana's death was made public, and they decided to withdraw the offer of the pictures. Copies of the photos were placed in Lyons' office safe.
Sometime between 11 p.m. on Aug. 31 and 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 1, the electricity at Lyons' office was mysteriously cut, although no other power outages in the office building or the neighborhood occurred. Lyons, convinced that either the office was being robbed, or bombed, called the police. In his sworn statement, Lyons declared that he believed that secret service agents had broken into his office and either searched the premises or planted surveillance and listening devices.
Lionel Cherruault, a London-based photo journalist for Sipa Agency, in his sworn statement, reported that, at 1:45 a.m. on Aug. 31, 1997, he received a call at his home from a freelance photographer in Florida, informing him that he was expecting to soon be in possession of photographs of the tunnel crash. Cherruault told the Florida contact that he was interested. After word of Diana's death was announced, the deal fell through.
But Cherruault, who was in contact with his boss at Sipa, stated that, at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 1, while he and his wife and daughter were asleep, his home was broken into, his wife's car was stolen, and his car was moved. Computer disks used for transmitting photographs, and other electronic equipment, were stolen, and the front door of their home was left wide open. Even though cash, credit cards, and jewelry were visible in the study where the burglars stole the computer equipment, none of those valuables were taken, making it clear that this was not an ordinary break-in. The next day, a police officer came to Cherruault's home and confirmed that the break-in was clearly the work of "Special Branch, MI5, MI6, call it what you like, this was no ordinary burglary." The officer said that the home had "been targetted." The man, whose name Cherruault was unable to recall, assured him "not to worry, your lives were not in danger," according to the sworn statement.
The official police report of the Cherruault break-in, which has been reviewed by EIR, confirmed that "The computer equipment stolen contained a huge library of royal photographs and appears to have been the main target for the perpetrators."
One of the other still-unresolved issues in the Alma crash probe, three years after the fact, revolves around the medical evidence. Al-Fayed has been battling in court in Britain for the right to participate in the official inquest into the death of Princess Diana, arguing that since both Diana and Dodi died in the crash, therefore he should be entitled to officially participate in both inquests. The courts have preliminarily ruled that he has the right to contest the Royal Coroner's rejection of his participation in the Diana inquest, which will only occur after the French appellate process has been completed, sometime later this year.
However, in April of this year, the attorneys representing Al-Fayed received a copy of a suppressed memorandum, prepared by Professors Dominique Lecomte and Andre Lienhart, two French forensic pathologists working for Judge Stephan, suggesting that British authorities, including the Royal Coroner, Dr. Burton, had interceded to conceal some aspects of the official British autopsy. The two French doctors were in London on June 23, 1998, where they met with British coroners Drs. Burton and Burgess, forensic pathologist Dr. Chapman, and Scotland Yard Superintendant Jeffrey Rees. They were given copies of the English autopsy report on Princess Diana, but, according to their contemporaneous notes on the meeting, were told that the document was provided for their "private and personal use," and that it should not be included in the formal file of Judge Stephan.
Any material in that official investigative file was automatically made available to attorneys representing all the interested parties in the French probe, including Al-Fayed's attorneys.
This two-and-a-half year suppression of the Lecomte-Lienhart memorandum has once again raised serious questions about the legitimacy of the "official" autopsy of the Princess of Wales, including questions that arose at the time of her death, as to whether she was pregnant.
The mayhem surrounding the deaths of Diana and Dodi, and now Andanson, raises questions about the circumstances in Paris on that night in late August 1997--questions that the House of Windsor in general, and Prince Philip in particular, have long sought to suppress. The time may be fast approaching that the well-orchestrated three-year cover-up is about to blow apart, and at least part of the truth about the death of the "People's Princess" see the light of day.
And that is something that the Windsors and the mandarins of MI6 may not be able to survive.