Was there a connection between the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and the nascent arms corruption of the British body politic, which corruption I describe in my book, Maggie's Hammer, and which I allege now exerts a dominating and toxic influence over most of the workings of the British government and the UK Parliament? Yes. But it was not what you thought it might have been. Read on.
When the British Conservative Party was unceremoniously tossed out of power in May of 1997, after eighteen years of government under first Margaret Thatcher and later John Major, all manner of seemingly credible establishment figures began to make serious allegations about the involvement of senior right-wing Conservatives in very remunerative (um, bribes) and certainly illicit arms dealing.
One by one, the politicians among the accusers were bought off. With a juicy Shadow Cabinet position here. A threat or two there. All except for Mohammed al-Fayed, billionaire owner of Harrods, Fulham Football Club. And the Ritz Hotel, in Paris.
Al-Fayed had a continuing beef with the British Conservatives. They had denied him British citizenship. And he promised in 1997 to walk all over the grave of their election defeat with detailed revelations of the covert arms activities of senior Conservatives. Naming names. Of all the participants. Including the Middle-Eastern arms middlemen. Folks who normally preferred to remain nameless, in the shadows.
Al-Fayed’s crowning moment came in June of 1997 when, just a month after the Tories’ election defeat, he provided the evidence which scuppered the libel action former Tory Cabinet Minister Jonathan Aitken was bringing against the (London) Guardian newspaper.
In 1995, the Guardian had run a piece alleging that Jonathan Aitken, while serving as Tory Minister for Defence Procurement (for which read, Minister for International Arms Sales), had in 1993 met in al-Fayed’s Ritz Hotel with one Said Ayas, one of the primary arms bagmen for the Saudi Royal Family.
Bagmen are the high-flying, backroom fixers who negotiate the level of arms commissions (bribes) to be paid, and who decide who receives how much. In 1993, some $300 million a year in arms commissions was being paid by the Saudi government into a special Bank of England account, for the political party in power in Great Britain then to divvy up among its friends.
That money arose out of a multi-stage, rolling arms contract between the British government and Saudi Arabia, which began in 1985, continues to this day, and so far has been worth about $100 billion. The contract is known as Al Yamamah, Arabic for ‘The Dove.’
Aitken was meeting with Ayas, in Paris, in 1993, to put the finishing touches to the bribes to be paid from Al Yamamah II, while commencing the negotiations for the commissions arising from Al Yamamah III.
Naturally, all of the parties concerned were less than happy with al-Fayed’s boasts that he was going to reveal details of the illicit Tory arms dealing which had been taking place in his hotel.
However, no-one really took him seriously. Until, in June of 1997, al-Fayed triumphantly produced a fax which proved that Aitken had been lying in his libel action.
The fax made clear that, contrary to what Aitken had been insisting in his libel action, namely that he had never met Ayas, didn’t know him, and most certainly had been nowhere near the Ritz Hotel the weekend in 1993 when Ayas was holding court there. Aitken had indeed been in the Ritz Hotel that same weekend. Meeting with Ayas. In fact, the fax al-Fayed was waving in his grubby little hand was none other than a copy of Aitken’s hotel bill. Oops.
Libel action crashes. Aitken later goes to prison for perjury. Fayed is beside himself with joy. And the backroom arms dealings of the British Conservative Party and those shadowy Middle Eastern bagmen are suddenly being exposed all over the British media. Not a place shadowy arms middlemen like to have their photographs appearing.
I continue with an excerpt from my book:
“Al-Fayed was, of course, beside himself with joy. Not only had the offending event occurred in his hotel, but he had been able to get The Guardian story going in the first place, with his invaluable inside information about Jonny’s meeting.
More than that. Al-Fayed had then been able to apply the coup de grace personally. For it was he who had supplied the trial with the Ritz Hotel fax that had proven that Jonny’s wife was in Switzerland, and not in Paris. Tubby little Fayed bobbed and weaved around London, in merriment and mirth, rubbing his hands in glee, just like Danny de Vito as the Penguin in Batman Returns.
Along with the bobbing, and just before the weaving, al-Fayed was also trumpeting to the press that he would now hammer the nail well and truly into the coffin of the Conservative Party, with total exposure of the Tories’ remaining dirty dealings with respect to Al Yamamah. I put two and two together, and wondered whether he was in a position to do this because those dealings had also occurred in the Ritz Hotel?
I wrote a letter to al-Fayed (in early August of 1997), setting out my reasoning, and asking him if he’d happened to come across Hugh in his hotel, up to no good. Not really expecting al-Fayed to respond, I got a little “familiar” in the letter, and commended him on his courage in speaking out so boldly about arms merchants, who probably wouldn’t be too happy at his threats to expose them, along with right-wing Tories.
Less than a month later, in the middle of the night of August 31, 1997, his son Dodi was killed in mysterious circumstances in a car crash in Paris, as he was traveling from the Ritz Hotel back to his apartment. Also killed in the crash was his girlfriend. With him. In the back seat of his Mercedes.
The girlfriend was Diana, Princess of Wales.
To this day, Mohammed al-Fayed has not uttered a single word more about arms deals, arms merchants, arms middlemen, the Ritz Hotel or the (British) Conservative Party. He has four young children by his second marriage.”