Monday, September 06, 2004

Diana's Bodyguard Killed Over Their Affair

06/09/04 - News section
Diana: 'Bodyguard killed for our affair'
By CHARLIE BAIN, Daily Mail

A sensational claim by Princess Diana that her former bodyguard was murdered for having an affair with her is being investigated by Scotland Yard.
Her beyond-the-grave testimony that royal protection officer Barry Mannakee was deliberately killed in a motorcycle crash 17 years ago is said to be on a video filmed in the early Nineties.
Officers unearthed the 90-minute film - shot by her former voice coach Peter Settelen - while gathering evidence for the inquest into her death.
On it, Diana is said to confess to an affair with the married detective and claims he was targeted by security service agents as a result.
The affair is alleged to have taken place in 1985 - four years into Diana's marriage and several months before Prince Charles re-established contact with Camilla Parker Bowles.
Motorcycle accident
The following year, father-of-two Mr Mannakee was moved from his royal duties at Kensington Palace to the Diplomatic Corps.
Eight months later, in May 1987, aged 39, he died riding pillion on a motorcycle which collided with a Ford Fiesta in Woodford, East London.
Although it was well known Mr Mannakee had been a confidant of the Princess, some of Charles's circle were convinced the police sergeant's sudden change of role was because he was her first extra-marital lover.
Now detectives have begun re-interviewing key witnesses. In recent weeks, they have questioned former policeman Stephen Peal, who was at the controls of the Suzuki bike.
Mr Mannakee's widow Susan, who has since remarried, has also been interviewed again and police plan to trace the Fiesta driver, Nicola Chopp, who was 17 at the time and is now understood to live in America.
Diana's testimony
The tape said to contain Diana's testimony was one of half a dozen held by Scotland Yard pending the outcome of a six-year legal battle between Mr Settelen and the Spencer family. That ended in victory for Mr Settelen in July, paving the way for him to make millions from TV deals.
The tapes were recorded between September 1992 and December 1993, one of the most turbulent periods in the Princess's marriage.
Although talk of the affair is dismissed by Diana's friends, there is no doubting Mr Mannakee and the Princess were close. After his death, Diana would make yearly visits to the City of London crematorium where his ashes are scattered and she would often talk about a treasured teddy bear he gave her.
Diana's close friend Rosa Monckton has said: "He was just a father figure. At that time she was still in love with Charles."
Michael Burgess, the Coroner to the Queen's Household, has asked Metropolitan Commissioner Sir John Stevens to compile a report on Diana's death which will be presented at her inquest, likely to take place next year.
Operation Paget will focus among other things on Diana's state of mind during key stages in her life.
Last night, a Scotland Yard statement said: "Although it's now seven years since the sad events in Paris, all relevant evidence is being carefully considered by the Commissioner and his Operation Paget team."