THE DEATH OF DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES
(August 31, 1997 — Paris, France)
(Chief, Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), 1994-1999)
The Official Story
(Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), 1994-1999)
Sir David Rolland Spedding KCMG CVO OBE (7 March 1943 – 13 June 2001) was Head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) from 1994 to 1999.
David Spedding joined the Secret Intelligence Service in 1967, while a postgraduate student at Oxford. He then attended the Middle East Center for Arabic Studies in Beirut, becoming a specialist on Middle East affairs. He also served in Santiago and Abu Dhabi.
In 1971 Spedding was named as the local SIS station commander in Lebanon, and was later posted to Abu Dhabi in 1977. Following his Middle East Directorate appointment in 1983, he was made the Amman Jordan station head, and was subsequently commended in that position for uncovering an Abu Nidal plan to assassinate the Queen during an upcoming Jordan visit. For this he was made Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.
In 1993, Spedding became Director of Requirements and Operations. In 1994 he became Chief of the Service, becoming the first chief to have never served in the armed forces, and the youngest to have held the position to that date. During Spedding’s tenure the SIS faced some degree of negative publicity due to unauthorized disclosures in the wake of Richard Tomlinson’s dismissal.
Sir David Spedding died of lung cancer on 13 June 2001, aged 58.
Alleged MI6 involvement in the death of Princess Diana
Richard Tomlinson, a former MI6 officer who was dismissed from the intelligence services and later served five months in prison for breaching the Official Secrets Act 1989, claimed in a sworn statement to the French inquiry in May 1999 that Britain’s MI6 had been involved in the crash, suggesting that the security service had documentation which would assist Judge Stephan in his inquiry. The previous August, he had been reported by the BBC to have claimed that Paul was working for the security services and that one of Diana’s bodyguards, either Trevor Rees-Jones (now known as Trevor Rees) or Kes Wingfield, was a contact for British intelligence. Tomlinson alleged that MI6 was monitoring Diana before her death, had told Mohamed Al-Fayed that Paul was an MI6 agent, and that her death mirrored plans he saw in 1992 for the assassination of then President of Serbia Slobodan Milošević, using a strobe light to blind his chauffeur.
On 13 February 2008, Tomlinson told the inquest that he may have misremembered and that he had no evidence that Paul was an MI6 agent, but he had said in the previous day’s court session that Paul was supplying MI6 with information. Speaking by video-link from France, Tomlinson conceded that, after the interval of 16 or 17 years, he “could not remember specifically” whether the document he had seen during 1992 had in fact proposed the use of a strobe light to cause a traffic crash as a means of assassinating Milošević, although use of lights for this purpose had been covered in his MI6 training. The Operation Paget Inquiry was given unprecedented access to the offices of both MI5 and MI6 to investigate Tomlinson’s claims. It was later revealed that the mentioned memo was a proposal written in March 1993 to assassinate another Serbian figure if he gained power, not Milošević. Furthermore, the plan did not involve anything about using flashlights.
Further evidence discrediting Tomlinson’s claims was found in drafts of a book he was writing about his time in MI6 before he was jailed in 1998 for breaching the Official Secrets Act. The draft, dating from 1996, referred to the memo and contained none of the detail about a staged car crash with flashlights in a tunnel.
The inquest was later told by an anonymous MI6 manager (referred to during proceedings as “Miss X”) that MI6 were not keeping any file on either the Princess or Dodi, and that there was no plan involving them. The inquiry concluded by dismissing Tomlinson’s claims as an embellishment. It went on to comment that this embellishment was largely responsible for giving rise to the theories Diana was murdered.
Tomlinson was arrested by French authorities in July 2006 as part of their inquiry into the death of Diana. French police were also reported to have seized computer files and personal papers from his home in Cannes.