Conspiracies won’t go away
Nearly three years of investigation, at a cost of £3.7 million, and yet the report by the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Lord Stevens, into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, will not end the conspiracy theories about her death.
The conspiracy theories live because questions remain, encouraged by missing evidence and failures in the investigation. The theories live because an increasing number of people distrust official sources of information, and also because some people just cannot bring themselves to believe the official explanation no matter what.
The Conspiracy Files series is looking at four modern controversial conspiracies: the death of Princess Diana, 9/11, the Oklahoma Bomb and the death of the government scientist Dr David Kelly (episode details here). We chose them because important questions have been raised about the official explanation. That is not to conclude either way. We set about trying to find the evidence. Alison Peterson, commenting on my blog entry last week, implores us to find and analyse the facts. I hope that’s what you saw in the first programme How Diana Died (BBC Two last Sunday).
Just because an official says something does not make it true, but equally it does not make it false either. We need to know the sources of the information we use and we are always looking for corroboration. We spend a lot of time working out what the real story is and how much weight to place on any particular piece of information.
Valid questions have been raised about the death of Princess Diana - why was the road reopened just four-and-a-half hours after the crash? Why was there no CCTV footage available from any of the cameras along the route? Why has a crucial witness, who drove the Fiat Uno which was hit by Diana’s Mercedes, never been found?
But in the end we did not find any convincing evidence to support the conspiracy theory that Princess Diana was murdered by the secret service on the orders of the British Establishment. We revealed a vital new piece of evidence that the French authorities had carried out DNA tests on the driver’s blood and found it matched his parents. This evidence makes it clear that the blood samples, which showed that the driver, Henri Paul, had three times the French drink drive limit, could not have been switched in an attempt to cover up a secret plot. What is more, the evidence suggests Henri Paul was driving too fast on a difficult section of road, he lost control before he hit the second car, and that neither Dodi Al Fayed nor Princess Diana were wearing seat belts, and yet they could still be alive if they had worn them.
Other commenters included Laurie Phillips, Gareth Williams and Gary Scott who suggested that we attacked straw men. Yet in the programme about Princess Diana we tackled and answered all the key questions - whether Princess Diana’s driver was drunk, driving too fast, part of a secret service plot, whether a second car was also part of the plot, and whether Princess Diana was about to get married or was pregnant. We did not dodge any of those important questions. Furthermore, we pointed out information that is difficult for the authorities, such as the absence of CCTV footage.
A number of you looked forward to the other programmes in the series, which continues in the New Year, especially the programme about 9/11. To answer questions about what we are covering in the 9/11 programme, we are covering all the key issues, including World Trade Centre 7, which was not hit by an aeroplane but which collapsed. And yes we did contact Professor Steven Jones, but he did not want to be interviewed for the programme and instead we interviewed the co-chair of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, Professor Jim Fetzer.
Some wondered if the BBC was somehow part of the cover-up. I hope you’ll see that the evidence we produced about Princess Diana’s death, and my background, show that is a daft suggestion.
I produced a series of Panoramas with John Ware which did not pull their punches but equally did not assume every official statement is necessarily false. A film on the Hutton Inquiry and the events surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly (“A Fight to the Death”) was critical of both the BBC and the British Government - hard to see how I was part of a conspiracy there. Another Panorama examined in detail the case Tony Blair made for taking Britain to war with Iraq (“Iraq, Tony and the Truth”), and quoted for the first time from the Downing Street memorandum of July 2002 which revealed that the Head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, as saying that the intelligence and the facts regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq “were being fixed around the policy” by the Bush Administration.
Oh and by the way, in answer to one comment, no I am not and have never been a spy.