New twist in Diana SAS mystery: Why are detectives examining this image discovered on the elusive Soldier N's laptop... of snipers from his unit aiming at cars from a bridge in the UK?
Picture from Soldier N's laptop has been passed on to Metropolitan Police
The picture was one of 90 images of Special Forces soldiers found
He faces investigation after he was said to have stored secret documents
In all likelihood men in picture were engaged in counter-terrorism training
An SAS sniper, lying on a bridge, points his long-range rifle towards a dual-carriageway and peers into his telescopic sight, as if poised to open fire. It makes for a startling image – all the more so since the picture was taken not in a conflict zone or even a training camp but in a public area in the Welsh countryside.
What makes it more arresting is that the photograph was found on a computer belonging to the Special Forces marksman known as Soldier N, who is said to have told his wife that members of the SAS ‘arranged’ the death of Princess Diana.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that it has now been passed to the Metropolitan Police, whose specialist crime and operations command is investigating the sensational, if improbable, assassination theory.
Startling: The photograph of the marksmen found on Soldier N's computer
Last photo: Diana, driver Henri Paul and bodyguard Trevor Rees in her car moments before it crashed in Paris
The allegation first came to light during the second court martial of Sergeant Danny Nightingale, who was found guilty of illegally possessing a gun and ammunition.
Since then it has attracted global press attention and fuelled conspiracy theories.
It was outlined in a letter, written by the mother-in-law of Soldier N, who was a key witness for the prosecution.
The picture was one of 90 images of Special Forces soldiers found on Soldier N’s home computer.
He faces a Ministry of Defence investigation after he was also said to have illegally stored secret SAS tactical documents, videos of operations in Afghanistan and emails to his then wife from Afghanistan identifying the location of SAS and Special Boat Service (SBS) units, times and dates of operations, and tactics used to kill and capture insurgents.
In all likelihood the men in the photograph taken on the bridge were engaged in a counter-terrorism training exercise, practising a procedure known as high speed vehicle interdiction. The tactic was developed to stop vehicles being driven by terrorists or suicide bombers travelling at speed.
Tour of duty: Ninety images of Special Forces soldiers were found on Soldier N's home computer
It is thought that the bridge and a section of road beneath it were closed at the time. The Mail on Sunday knows the location of the bridge but has agreed not to disclose it at the request of senior defence officials.
Former SAS soldier turned author Andy McNab, famous for his 1993 book Bravo Two Zero (about the eight man SAS patrol that was given the task of destroying underground communication links between Baghdad and north-west Iraq and with tracking Scud missile movements in the region, four of whom were captured and held hostage for six weeks during the First Gulf War in 1991), said that although the exercise would have been ‘as realistic as possible’, the sniper would not have used either live or blank ammunition.
Former SAS soldier Andy McNab
Even so, it is easy to see how the 2009 image, thought to have been taken by Soldier N, might be seized upon by those who believe Diana’s death, along with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, in a car crash in a Paris underpass in 1997 was murder, not an accident.
Simon McKay, solicitor for Dodi’s father Mohamed Al Fayed, said it not only ‘causes concern and anxiety by everyone affected by this case but also the public generally, who are entitled to answers not just how it came about, but also how it was photographed and the extent to which the military sanctioned it’. The Ministry of Defence declined to discuss the picture last night.
Princess Diana hours before she died
Soldier N is said to have claimed that a former member of the elite regiment was in charge of an assassination squad which moved in on Dodi’s driver Henri Paul, who also died in the crash, using a white car and a motorbike – before flashing a blinding light into his eyes. But reflecting the twisting nature of the case, this has now been denied by Soldier N himself. A source close to the inquiry told this newspaper that he and his girlfriend gave statements to police last month, and that Soldier N blamed his former wife for ‘trying to cause trouble’.
Scotland Yard said yesterday it was ‘not appropriate to give a running commentary on the progress of the investigation’.
Meanwhile Mr McKay, acting on behalf of Mr Al Fayed and Soldier N’s wife, has been critical of the Met’s approach to the case.
He wrote to the Met Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, to complain that the officer leading the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Philip Easton, was unlikely to be ‘sufficiently objective or open-minded’. This, he said, was because DCI Easton was a ‘significant contributor’ to the Paget Report, which concluded Diana’s death was a tragic accident.
Mr McKay said last night: ‘It is important to bear in mind that it is not disputed that Mr Al Fayed’s son, Dodi, was unlawfully killed and that he is entitled to the same treatment that any father facing such a tragedy expects from the police in this country. The reality is the police have approached this new material with scepticism before exploring its truth. They have issued press releases without first speaking to the family. They have failed to meet promises that Mr Al Fayed would be kept up to date with inquiries.
‘All of this fails to meet the basic requirements of their own victim support policy and minimum legal standards. There is now an incurable lack of confidence in how the Met have approached the matter and it should be dealt with by an independent police force.’
‘It is important to bear in mind that it is not disputed that Mr Al Fayed’s son, Dodi, was unlawfully killed and that he is entitled to the same treatment that any father facing such a tragedy expects from the police in this country'
- Simon McKay, solicitor for Dodi’s father Mohamed Al Fayed
Scotland Yard insisted its officers are ‘looking for new evidence that is credible and relevant’. A spokesman added: ‘The officers doing the assessment are a combination of those with a detailed knowledge and those not previously involved. Their work is being overseen by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt who was not previously involved.’
Other documents said to have been stored on Soldier N’s computer include files containing classified information revealing covert operations in which senior members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban were killed and captured.
Soldier N also sent a series of emails to his then wife from Afghanistan identifying the location of SAS and Special Boat Service units, times and dates of operations and the tactics used to kill and capture insurgents.
Defence sources last night described the security breach as a huge embarrassment to the SAS, which prides itself on secrecy and professionalism. It is forbidden for members of the SAS to keep highly sensitive information on personal computers and those doing so face charges under the Official Secrets Act. A security breach on such a large scale is understood to be unique within the SAS, and a Ministry of Defence investigation is trying to establish the extent of the problem.
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones
He also wasn't SAS, he was navy.
You're remarkably ignorant of your own history, Alf.
No, I'm not. I know full well that Prince Philip was in the Royal Navy and can never remember mentioning anywhere that he was in the SAS. He served in the RN while two of his brothers-in-law, Prince Christopher of Hesse and Berthold, Margrave of Baden, fought on the opposing German side.
He spent four months on the battleship HMS Ramillies, protecting convoys of the Australian Expeditionary Force in the Indian Ocean, followed by shorter postings on HM Ships Kent, Shropshire and in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). After the invasion of Greece by Italy in October 1940, he was transferred from the Indian Ocean to the battleship HMS Valiant in the Mediterranean Fleet. Among other engagements, he was involved in the Battle of Crete, and was mentioned in despatches for his service during the Battle of Cape Matapan, in which he controlled the battleship's searchlights.
In June 1942, he was appointed to the V and W class destroyer and flotilla leader, HMS Wallace, which was involved in convoy escort tasks on the east coast of Britain, as well as the allied invasion of Sicily. Promotion to lieutenant followed on 16 July 1942. In October of the same year he became first lieutenant of HMS Wallace, at 21 years old one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy. During the invasion of Sicily, in July 1943, as second in command of HMS Wallace, he saved his ship from a night bomber attack. He devised a plan to launch a raft with smoke floats that successfully distracted the bombers allowing the ship to slip away unnoticed. In 1944, he moved on to the new destroyer, HMS Whelp, where he saw service with the British Pacific Fleet in the 27th Destroyer Flotilla. He was present in Tokyo Bay when the instrument of Japanese surrender was signed.
Last edited by Blackleaf; Oct 6th, 2013 at 06:10 AM..