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British police probe new Diana 'murder claim'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

British police are examining new information about the death of Diana, princess of Wales, reportedly including an allegation that she was murdered by a member of the British military.

Scotland Yard said on Saturday that detectives were checking the "relevance and credibility" of information received recently about the deaths of the princess and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed in Paris on August 31, 1997.

They were killed in a car crash in an underpass, along with their driver, Henri Paul, when the Mercedes he was driving crashed as it was being pursued by photographers.

Citing a military source, the Sunday Telegraph said the allegation came from the estranged parents-in-law of a member of Britain's special forces, who gave evidence in the trial this year of Danny Nightingale, an SAS soldier convicted of illegally possessing a weapon.

The man said to be the source of the allegations, known only as "Soldier N" in the trial, was himself convicted of illegal weapons possession.

The newspaper reported that his estranged wife's parents wrote to the SAS's commanding officer claiming the soldier had told his wife that the unit had "arranged" Diana's death and that this had been "covered up".

The information was passed to the police by the Royal Military Police, according to several reports.

Scotland Yard said in a statement: "The Metropolitan Police Service is scoping information that has recently been received in relation to the deaths and assessing its relevance and credibility.

"The assessment will be carried out by officers from the specialist crime and operations command.

"This is not a re-investigation and does not come under Operation Paget."

Scotland Yard said they were not prepared to discuss the matter further.

Operation Paget was the initial British investigation into claims of a conspiracy to murder Diana and Dodi Fayed that were made by his father, the former owner of the Harrods department store, Mohamed Al-Fayed.

Led by John Stevens, formerly Britain's top policeman, it concluded in 2006 that all the allegations it assessed were without foundation.

The car that Diana was travelling in smashed into a pillar in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel and spun around.

Dodi Fayed, 42, and driver Paul -- the deputy head of security at Al-Fayed's plush Hotel Ritz in Paris -- were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

Diana, 36, the ex-wife of Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and the mother of Princes William and Harry, died later in hospital.

Trevor Rees-Jones, a member of the Al-Fayed family's protection team, survived. He had been the only person in the car wearing a seatbelt.

Seeking to outrun chasing paparazzi photographers, Paul was found to have been speeding, while his blood alcohol level was found to have been more than three times over the French limit.

The longest-running and most expensive inquest in British history concluded in 2008 with a jury finding Diana and Fayed had been "unlawfully killed" by the grossly negligent driving of Paul and following vehicles.

A royal spokeswoman said there would be no comment on the matter from William or Harry, or from Charles's Clarence House office.

The defence ministry also said it was not commenting.

A spokesman for Al-Fayed said he was "interested in seeing the outcome", and urged police to investigate the claims "with vigour".

Diana married Charles in 1981 but their already shaky marriage fell apart soon after Harry's birth in 1984, with both sides admitting adultery. They separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.

Diana's first grandchild, Prince George, was born last month to William's wife Catherine in the same London hospital where Diana herself gave birth to William and Harry.

The princess of Wales had been dating Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan for around two years before her brief relationship with Fayed in the weeks before her death.

A film about her relationship with Khan has its world premiere in London on September 5. The movie, called "Diana", stars Naomi Watts as the princess.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130818/british-police-probe-new-diana-murder-claim