27 March 2017

Puerto Rican Debt in the News


Restructuring agreement for Puerto Rico's utility could be in jeopardy
22 Mar 2017
A financial agreement involving Puerto Rico's largest utility may be in jeopardy, which could put the U.S. territory's power grid at risk for outages and hamper efforts to diversify its fuel mix. A restructuring support agreement, or RSA, for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, is set to expire March 31. Unless the RSA is renewed, the territory has no other viable options to meet its bond payment due July 1 of $455 million, which would cause the utility to default and likely trigger power outages across the island.

Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Laureate, on Saving Puerto Rico
27 Feb 2017
“The board appointed to oversee Puerto Rico’s debt restructuring is predicted that its proposals would turn the island’s recession into a depression, of a magnitude seldom seen around the world — a decline of 16.2 percent of gross national product in the next fiscal year, comparable to the experience of countries in civil wars, and Venezuela in economic crisis in 2016. Unemployment, already at 12.4 percent, would soar. The plan, which puts the creditors’ interests above those of the island’s economy and people, will create a debt spiral. As in Greece, the debt/gross domestic product ratio will rise, and with it the likelihood of ever-deeper debt write-downs. American taxpayers will lose, too, as they will pay for the costs.”

Puerto Rico Governor Weighs Asking Creditors for More Concessions
27 Jan 2017
Many bond investors have viewed Puerto Rico’s new governor, Ricardo Rosselló, as a likely ally in their fight to get repaid. Now that hope is starting to dwindle. The governor struck a populist tone in a recent public spat with the federal oversight board managing Puerto Rico’s financial rehabilitation. Investors increasingly fear there will be a bankruptcy.

Two of Puerto Rico’s New Overlords Are Accused of Helping Create Its Debt Crisis
16 Dec 2016
A control board, which has veto power over major Puerto Rican budget decisions, was created by Congress in June as the island foundered under $70 billion in public debt. Activists are calling for the resignation of two members of Puerto Rico’s fiscal control board, Ramon Gonzalez and Carlos As Puerto Rico’s debt rose, the island’s elected officials began pushing the burden of repayment onto the public. Beginning in 2009, then-Gov. Luis Fortuño instituted major austerity measures, laying off tens of thousands of public employees. 

Puerto Rico: Huge blackout after power plant fire
21 Sep 2016
A big fire at a power plant has left 1.5 million people without electricity in the US territory of Puerto Rico. The fire affected two transmission lines and caused the collapse of the electricity system across the island. Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority has been undergoing restructuring and is seeking funds to update what it says is outdated equipment. The cause of the fire is still unclear. The blackout also caused 15 fires across Puerto Rico as a result of malfunctioning generators.

White House Announces Puerto Rico Oversight Board Membership
01 Sep 2016
The White House is announcing members of Puerto Rico's fiscal oversight board established as part of legislation to address the US territory’s debt crisis. The board is responsible for triggering debt restructuring on the island and approving the Governor's budget. Four of the seven board members are Puerto Rican. The legislation additionally put a stay on debt lawsuits against Puerto Rico and granted the island tools to restructure all of its debt. Puerto Rico owes over $70 billion overall and defaulted on $2 billion in debt on July 1. The island is in the midst of a decade-long recession, has an unemployment rate more than double the national rate and nearly half its population lives in poverty.

Obama Appoints Social Security Critic to Fix Puerto Rico’s Budget
31 Aug 2016
Andrew Biggs, an American Enterprise Institute resident scholar and architect of conservative efforts to cut and privatize Social Security, has been named by President Obama to a seven-member fiscal oversight board for the debt-ridden U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. The oversight board is tasked with balancing Puerto Rico’s budget and pursuing all avenues to pay off its massive debt, including cuts to the island’s education, police, and health care systems.

Puerto Rico to default on $779m debt
01 Jul 2016
Puerto Rico announced on Friday that it would default on $779m (£588m) of debt. Debt payments totaling just over $2bn were due on Friday. US President Barack Obama signed a bill into law on Thursday giving the island access to a debt restructuring process and halting any litigation arising from defaults. As part of the US law, the island's finances will soon come under a US federal oversight board. Puerto Rico has been struggling to make payments on its $70bn debt load.

Treasury Secretary Reminds Senate It Has 4 Days Before Puerto Rico Defaults On More Debt
27 Jun 2016
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sounded the alarm Monday on the looming deadline for the Senate to pass legislation to help Puerto Rico with its debt crisis. The commonwealth owes a $2 billion debt payment on July 1, and its government has said it will default. Without action, Puerto Rico could be exposed to a flurry of lawsuits, which could lead to hospital closures and squeeze the island’s police force, education system and other services. The House has passed a bill to help the island restructure its debt, but the Senate has yet to vote on it.

House Passes Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA)
09 Jun 2016
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to provide restructuring authority for Puerto Rico’s massive debt and establish an oversight board to address the territory’s fiscal crisis. Puerto Rico faces a debt payment on July 1 of roughly $1.8 billion.

Sanders to Senate Dems: Do You Stand with Puerto Rico or with Wall Street?
23 May 2016
As a U.S. House committee prepares to take up the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) on Tuesday, Bernie Sanders opposes the bill. PROMESA would allow Puerto Rico to restructure $72 billion in debt, while establishing an unelected outside control board to oversee the territory's fiscal matters—a top demand from Republicans. The board would not be subject to any Puerto Rican authority and is bound by PROMESA to make decisions that are in the interests of Puerto Rico’s creditors. Sanders blasted the creation of this "undemocratic board," which he said "would have the power to slash pensions, cut education and health care, and increase taxes on working families in Puerto Rico."

Republicans, Obama Administration Reach Agreement on Puerto Rico Restructuring Bill
19 May 2016
WASHINGTON—House Republicans reached an agreement with the Obama administration to provide Puerto Rico a path to restructure its $70 billion debt load. The bill would offer the island a legal out similar to bankruptcy and wouldn’t commit any federal money, a critical requirement to winning support of conservatives. Puerto Rico has defaulted on different classes of bonds, including earlier this month when it missed most of a $422 million payment, and faces payments totaling $2 billion on July 1.

This Nuyorican Superhero Represents Hope And Solidarity For Puerto Ricans
17 May 2016
Puerto Rico just got a kickass Afro-boricua superhero! Her name is name is La Borinqueña, and she’s on a mission to help the Puerto Rican community unite and fight for social justice. Named after Puerto Rico’s national anthem, La Borinqueña was created by Brooklyn-based artist and writer Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez in response to the island’s current financial crisis and is intended to be a symbol of hope and solidarity. The cover art for the comic book, due out this fall, features La Borinqueña soaring above fellow Puerto Ricans Sonia Sotomayor, Arturo Schomburg, Lolita Lebron, Felicita Mendez, Hector Lavoe, among others.




Sanders Blasts 'Vulture Capitalists' and Colonialism in Puerto Rico
16 May 2016
Campaigning in Puerto Rico on Monday, Bernie Sanders railed against the "colonial-like relationship" that has allowed Wall Street "vulture capitalists" to profit off the debt-stricken territory's economic crisis. "It is unacceptable to me for the United States government to treat Puerto Rico like a colony during a time when its people are facing the worst fiscal and economic crisis in its history," the presidential hopeful declared in a rousing speech at a packed town hall in San Juan. "What vulture funds on Wall Street are demanding is that Puerto Rico fire teachers, close schools, cut pensions and abolish the minimum wage so that they can reap huge profits off the suffering and misery of the children and the people of Puerto Rico," Sanders said. "We cannot allow that to happen. We will not allow that to happen."

John Oliver explains Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

Puerto Rico to default on debt payment after talks fail
02 May 2016
Puerto Rico has halted a $422m debt payment due on Monday after talks to ease the US territory's crisis ended without a deal. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said in a televised speech he had issued an executive order suspending payments. A further debt payment of $1.9bn is due in July. Some creditors have argued that the territory has exaggerated its crisis. Congress is in recess until the week of 9 May.

Puerto Rico’s House Passes Emergency Debt Moratorium Bill
06 Apr 2016
Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives early on Wednesday passed an emergency bill allowing the government to halt payments on its debt, throwing into doubt broader restructuring plans to stave off a financial collapse of the U.S. Commonwealth. The measure would allow Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla to declare a moratorium on any debt payment he deems necessary, and also alter the structure of the Government Development Bank. Garcia Padilla is expected to quickly sign the bill into law. Burdened by a $70 billion debt load it says it cannot pay and a 45 percent poverty rate that has led to a steady exodus of its American citizens to the mainland, Puerto Rico faces economic collapse without a solution that either changes laws and/or involves an agreement with creditors. The introduction of the law had drawn a quick rebuke from creditors who hold the Puerto Rican government’s General Obligation debt.

Plan to Rescue Puerto Rico Advances, Led by House Republicans
24 Mar 2016
Politicians in Washington are coalescing around a financial plan to rescue Puerto Rico, just weeks before an expected major default on bond payments that would spread more turmoil through the island’s shaky economy. The plan would not grant Puerto Rico’s most fervent request: permission to restructure its entire $72 billion debt in bankruptcy. It would, however, give the island certain crucial tools that bankruptcy proceedings can offer — but only if it first comes under close federal oversight. The creation of such a board has been highly controversial on the island, where some residents and officials have called it an act of “colonialism”. If Puerto Rican officials are unable to make the budget balance with existing resources, the oversight board would have the power to do it for them — which could mean cuts in services. Much of the rescue package has been drafted in the House Natural Resources Committee under its chairman, Rob Bishop of Utah. Although the Natural Resources Committee might seem an odd place to resolve an offshore financial collapse, the committee has jurisdiction over America’s territories, which include Puerto Rico.

How Free Electricity Helped Dig $9 Billion Hole in Puerto Rico
01 Feb 2016
The power authority has been giving free power to all 78 of Puerto Rico’s municipalities, to many of its government-owned enterprises, even to some for-profit businesses — although not to its citizens. It has done so for decades, even as it has sunk deeper and deeper in debt, borrowing billions just to stay afloat. Now, however, the island’s government is running out of cash, facing a total debt of $72 billion and already defaulting on some bonds — and an effort is underway to limit the free electricity. The free power dates from 1941. Hearings will begin to determine who and what are to blame for the authority’s larger problems, especially its ancient and inefficient power plants, among the last in North America to burn oil. Culprits are expected to include the authority’s secretive purchasing managers, elected officials who wasted money on natural gas pipelines that were scrapped and an institutional hostility to wind and solar power that is hard to fathom on a breezy island where the sun shines most days.

 Faced with $9M in Debt, Puerto Rico’s Utility Appeals for Restructuring
28 Jan 2016
Puerto Rico’s main electricity provider and its bondholders are continuing negotiations to restructure almost $9 million in debt after failing to meet a deadline Friday that caused a tentative pact reached last month to be terminated. The restructuring support agreement between the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and its creditors expired after lawmakers failed to pass legislation by Friday to enable Prepa, as the agency is known, to lower its obligations and implement a new customer surcharge. In a sign of progress, banks that finance its fuel purchases and the utility entered into a forbearance agreement on Sunday that keeps their negotiations out of court through Feb. 12.

Faced with $9M in Debt, Puerto Rico’s Utility Appeals for Restructuring
28 Jan 2016
Puerto Rico’s main electricity provider and its bondholders are continuing negotiations to restructure almost $9 million in debt after failing to meet a deadline Friday that caused a tentative pact reached last month to be terminated. The restructuring support agreement between the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and its creditors expired after lawmakers failed to pass legislation by Friday to enable Prepa, as the agency is known, to lower its obligations and implement a new customer surcharge. In a sign of progress, banks that finance its fuel purchases and the utility entered into a forbearance agreement on Sunday that keeps their negotiations out of court through Feb. 12.

Puerto Rico: US calls for creditors to make sacrifices
20 Jan 2016
US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew urged Puerto Rico's creditors to make sacrifices that would allow the territory to restructure its debt. Mr. Lew said that unless both sides made sacrifices, "there is no path out of insolvency and back to growth." Puerto Rico is in its tenth year of rescission and struggling to cope with $70bn in debt. Negotiations between the Puerto Rican government and creditors have failed. Puerto Rico defaulted on part of its debt at the beginning of January and is on track to miss larger payments in the coming months. Puerto Rico does not have access to Chapter 9 of the US bankruptcy code, the provision that allowed cities such as Detroit to restructure their debts. Puerto Rico, with support from President Obama, is pushing Congress to change that law and grant them permission to use the Chapter 9 provision. In 2015 a US judge struck down a law passed by the Puerto Rican government that would have allowed it to restructure its debt.

Puerto Rico misses second major debt payment as economy struggles
05 Jan 2016
Puerto Rico has defaulted for the second time in five months, as the island struggles with massive debt obligations and a flagging economy. Last week, the island's governor said it would pay most, but not all, of the nearly $1bn it owed. Overall, the island has a total debt load of about $70bn, which Governor Padilla has said the island cannot pay. "This is not political rhetoric, this is mathematic," Mr. Padilla said. "It's very simple, we don't have the money to pay".

Governor Alejandro Padilla has called for the island to be granted bankruptcy rights like those on the mainland. The US Congress is set to debate the issue in the coming weeks. In recent months, the governor has repeatedly warned of a humanitarian crisis that could unfold and has called on the US Congress to extend bankruptcy protections to the island. US states and territories cannot declare bankruptcy under federal law. Puerto Rico's public utilities are heavily debt-burdened, but are not allowed the bankruptcy rights that their mainland counterparts are afforded.

The island has been called the "Greece of the Caribbean”. The flagging economy and uncertainty is driving mass emigration, with an average of about 230 people leaving per day. Unemployment on the island stands at 12.5% - around twice that of the US - and around 45% of people living in poverty. The island faces a bill of around $400m due in February and a much larger $1.9bn bill in July.

Inside the Billion-Dollar Battle for Puerto Rico’s Future
19 Dec 2015
On the surface, it is a battle over whether Puerto Rico should be granted bankruptcy protections, putting at risk tens of billions of dollars from investors around the country. But it is also testing the power of an ascendant class of ultrarich Americans to steer the fate of a territory that is home to more than three million fellow citizens. The investors with a stake in the outcome are some of the wealthiest people in America.

For decades, the island had been borrowing money to pay its bills. Puerto Rico’s bonds were particularly attractive to mutual funds because they were exempt from federal, state and local taxes in all 50 states. But in 2013, after the island’s general obligation bonds were downgraded, they caught the attention of a different sort of investor: hedge funds specializing in distressed assets. These funds began buying up the debt at a steep discount, confident that this was a bet they could not lose. Not only were the bonds guaranteed by the Puerto Rican Constitution, but under a wrinkle of federal law, the island’s public corporations and municipalities — unlike those of the 50 states — do not have bankruptcy as a recourse.  Drawn by the promise of what was a 20 percent return, Mr. Paulson’s firm purchased bonds in March 2014, as did Appaloosa Management, founded by David Tepper; Marathon Asset Management; BlueMountain Capital Management; and Monarch Alternative Capital. Puerto Rico now owes its creditors in excess of $70 billion, as much as a third of it is owed to hedge funds.

Puerto Rico narrowly avoids default
01 Dec 2015
Puerto Rico has narrowly avoided a default by making a last minute payment on its outstanding debt. The Government Development Bank made a $355m (£235m) payment that was due to creditors on Tuesday. Despite the move the territory is struggling to find money for government services and future debt payments. The Governor said the territory is facing a situation where it must decide between defaulting- failing to make the payments on its debt- or cutting public services. Though Puerto Rico is a territory of the US it is not entitled to restructure its debt in the same way that state and city governments are. Representatives from Puerto Rico - including the Governor - have been making the case that the island should be allowed to undertake the same process Detroit used when it faced bankruptcy.

Puerto Rico economy: Government defaults on bond payment
04 Aug 2015
Puerto Rico has confirmed that it failed to make a debt payment at the weekend, in the latest sign of the economic crisis in the US territory. The government said it did not have the funds available to pay more than $50m (£32m) due on bonds. Puerto Rico's governor said in June that the island's debts of more than $70bn were unpayable and that its finances needed restructuring. Economists say that Puerto Rico's financial woes run deep and will take years to sort out .

Puerto Rico has $72bn (£46bn) of public debt. That makes it by far the most indebted territory or state per capita in the United States. Unemployment is at almost 14% - more than double the national average - and over the last decade there has been little or no growth, resulting in the economy teetering on the brink of oblivion.  The island has been losing 1% (around 30,000 people) a year to Florida and other parts of the US. And it is mainly the economically active young who are leaving.


22 March 2017

Diana's Death a 'Tragic Accident': Maybe, Maybe Not




Princess Diana, 36, and Mr. Al Fayed, 42, died in a Paris car crash on 31 Aug 1997.

Gordon Thomas wrote of a scenario Diana's death in 1999 [summary below]. After the summary, there are chronicled news articles of Diana's death, which migrates through complete denial, investigation, inquest jury, and verdict. Her death remains an enigma with powerful parties involved.

It will be interesting to see if Mr. Thomas' account of her death plays out or not. It will also be interesting to see how Mohammed al-Fayed [Dodi's father] handles the verdict of the inquest. Will he respect the outcome of British justice, or will he see it as an expected outcome? After all, who would really expect to see a verdict against British royalty and British intelligence in a British court? Will al-Fayed had now seek justice outside the courts? What vengeance will the sons seek, especially with the resources at their command? It can be a deadly game when played on their level. In Oct 2009, Mohamed Al Fayed even made a run to become the first president of an independent Scotland. Ripe material for an aspiring Shakespeare. And now it’s a movie – Unlawful Killing.

Gideon's Spies by Gordon Thomas, 1999, Death of Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed

The Ritz Hotel had become important in Mossad's overall strategy. The hotel remained a meeting place for Middle Eastern arms brokers and their European contacts. Mossad had decided to have an informer in the Ritz who would be able to report on activities. As a chauffeur to VIPs, Henri Paul would be in good position to overhear their conversations, witness their behavior, see where they went, whom they met.

A Mossad psychologist had concluded that there was an inherent vulnerability about Henri Paul. The psychologist had recommended that steadily increasing pressure, linked with the promise of substantial monetary reward to finance Paul's social life, could be the best way to recruit him.

For Henri Paul in those last days of August 1997, there seemed no way out. He continued to drink, to take pills, to sleep restlessly, to bully junior staff. He was a man teetering close to the edge. Though he managed to conceal it, Henri Paul was unraveling mentally. Compounding the pressure was the forthcoming visit of Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed. Paul had been put in charge of their security while they were in the hotel, with particular responsibility for keeping away the paparazzi.

Two weeks prior to their deaths, the service had held several meetings with Henri Paul, "who was a paid informer of MI6."  Henri Paul had installed a bugging device in the Imperial Suite at the Ritz hotel and had obtained tapes of the "last intimate moments" of Diana and Dodi. Shortly before their death, the couple had spent several hours alone in the suite.

Just past midnight on Sunday, August 31, 1997, the dead were Diana, Princess of Wales, mother of the future king of England; Dodi Al-Fayed, son of Mohammed Al-Fayed, the Egyptian-born owner of Harrods of Knightsbridge, the "Royal" store; and Henri Paul. The couple's bodyguard had been critically injured. "Paul had been blinded as he drove through the underpass by a high-powered flash, a technique which is consistent with MI6 methods in other assassinations."

Moments later, the mysterious white Fiat Uno, which had been seen zigzagging away from the scene of the crash and which traces of paint scrapes had  been found in the tunnel, had driven into a side street off the Avenue Montalgne. Waiting there was a pentachnicon, its ramp lowered. The Uno had driven up the ramp, and the pantechnicon's doors had been closed. Hours later, the Uno had been gripped in the claws of a crusher and was reduced to a block of scrap metal.

Mohammed Al-Fayed: "A decision had been made by the Establishment, and at the very top, that Diana must not be allowed to marry a Muslim. Then the future king of England, Prince William, would have an Arab as his stepfather and another as his grandfather. There was also a real fear that I would provide the money to allow Diana to become a rival to the Queen of England. The Establishment would do anything to end my son's relationship with the one woman he had ever truly loved."

Mossad's determined attempts to recruit Henri Paul could lead to accusation that this had played a part in Diana's death. To this day Mossad's involvement with Henri Paul has remained a well-kept secret - the way the service had always intended it should remain. Mossad acted at the behest of no one outside Israel.


In The News:

UK relationship with France to continue after Brexit, says prince
17 Mar 2017

The UK's relationship with France will continue despite the vote to leave the EU, Prince William has said. Speaking at the start of a two-day official visit to Paris with the Duchess of Cambridge, the prince said friendship and co-operation "would not change". It is the duke's first official visit to the city where his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash in 1997.

Princess Diana WAS pregnant on the night she died, shock new play claims
10 Jan 2015
Sensational claims about the death of Princess Diana will be aired in a controversial West End play, which opens this week: Truth, Lies, Diana. It will revive claims that Diana was pregnant with “a Muslim baby” when she died in a Paris car crash alongside lover Dodi Fayed in 1997. Writer and director Jon Conway – who also appears in the production – said: “I think it’s important the public is able to hear the whole story. I call it the D-word as nobody wants to talk about it.”

Diana death police find no SAS role
16 Dec 2013
There is "no credible evidence" the SAS was involved in the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Al Fayed, the Metropolitan Police has said. "The final conclusion is that whilst there is a possibility the alleged comments in relation to the SAS's involvement in the deaths may have been made, there is no credible evidence to support a theory that such claims had any basis in fact. Former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi's father, was "disappointed but not discouraged" by the outcome, his solicitor Simon McKay said. He called the scoping exercise "the latest whitewash in a 16-year cover up".

Diana death: New information assessed by Scotland Yard
18 Aug 2013

The Metropolitan Police is assessing new information it has recently received about the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed in 1997. Scotland Yard said it was "scoping" the information and "assessing its relevance and credibility". Reports in several British Sunday newspapers suggest there are allegations the military was involved and that information had been passed to the police by an Army source. A spokesman for Dodi's father Mohamed Al Fayed said he would be "interested in seeing the outcome". In December 2006, the report into Operation Paget said it had found no evidence of murder and dismissed all conspiracy theories surrounding the deaths. Operation Paget concluded that driver Henri Paul had been drunk and driving at excessive speed.

Princess Diana film in Galway for first public showing
06 Jul 2011

A controversial documentary about the death of Princess Diana, Unlawful Killing, is to get its first public screening at an Irish film festival. Directed by Keith Allen and funded by the businessman Mohammed Al Fayed, its makers claim the film has evidence of a conspiracy around the Princess's death.

Unlawful Killing – the film the British won't get to see
07 May 2011
Inquest evidence showed conclusively that the crash was caused by an unidentified white Fiat Uno and several unidentified motorcycles, vehicles that were certainly not paparazzi, because uncontested police evidence confirmed that the paparazzi were nowhere near the tunnel at the time of the crash. British lawyers insisted on 87 cuts before any UK release could be contemplated. So rather than butcher the film, or risk legal action, the film is showing it in France, then the US, and everywhere except the UK.
Movie Trailer featuring Piers Morgan

Mohammed Al Fayed sells Harrods store to Qatar Holdings
08 May 2010
Mohammed Al Fayed has sold London department store Harrods to the Qatari royal family's investment company for a reported £1.5bn ($2.3bn). Qatar Holdings is the investment arm of the emirate's sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Investment Authority. Recognised for its celebrity-endorsed sales, food hall and signature green bags, Harrods is one of the world's largest and most famous department stores.

Mr. Al Fayed waged a 10-year campaign in an attempt to prove that Princess Diana and his son Dodi, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997, were murdered in a conspiracy. Despite living in Britain for decades, the multi-millionaire businessman has repeatedly been refused a UK passport.

Egyptian tycoon wants to be Scottish president
25 Oct 2009
Mohamed Al Fayed, owner of plush London emporium Harrods, told The Sunday Times newspaper he was ready to become the first president of an independent Scotland. The Egyptian tycoon, 80, who owns an estate in the Scottish Highlands, said he was urging his "fellow Scots" to detach themselves from "the English and their terrible politicians". Fayed, who has been repeatedly refused a British passport, said he hoped to be offered Scottish citizenship if a planned referendum on Scottish independence leads to Scotland leaving the United Kingdom -- and then becoming a republic. "You Scots have been living in a coma for too long," he told the broadsheet. "Whatever help is needed for Scotland to regain its independence, I will provide it. When you Scots regain your freedom I'm ready to be your president."

Princess Diana unlawfully killed
07 Apr 2008
Princess Diana was unlawfully killed due to the "gross negligence" of driver Henri Paul and the paparazzi, an inquest jury has found. The jury reached the same verdict for her companion Dodi Al Fayed. In a statement read on Al Fayed's behalf [Dodi's father Mohamed Al-Fayed] he said the verdicts would come as a blow to "millions" of his supporters around the world.

Diana murdered, Al Fayed claims
18 Feb 2008
Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed were murdered, Dodi's father Mohamed Al Fayed has told the inquest into their deaths in a car crash in Paris in 1997. Harrods owner Mr. Al Fayed claimed former prime minister Tony Blair, MI5, MI6 and the British ambassador to France were all part of the conspiracy. And he said Princess Diana "knew Prince Philip and Prince Charles were trying to get rid of her". He also said Diana had told him she was pregnant, and the couple was engaged. And he said Prince Charles was complicit, hoping to make way so he could marry his "crocodile wife" Camilla Parker Bowles. In his evidence, Mr. Al Fayed branded Prince Philip a "Nazi" and a "racist" and said: "It's time to send him back to Germany from where he comes."

Diana had 'no signs' of pregnancy
26 Nov 2007
There was no physical evidence that Diana, Princess of Wales was pregnant, according to the British pathologist who examined her body. But he said they would not necessarily be visible very soon after conception. Dr Chapman confirmed that fluids used in embalming could lead to some changes in a body, such as causing blood clots to form, but he said the chemicals would not obscure the physical evidence of a pregnancy if one existed.

'No evidence' of Diana pregnancy
03 Oct 2007
Intimate details of Princess Diana's life will be heard at the inquest into her death, but whether she was pregnant may never be known, the coroner said. Lord Justice Scott Baker said it was likely "pregnancy is a matter that cannot be proved one way or the other in scientific terms in this case". The inquest also heard how members of MI6 were in Paris during the summer Diana and Dodi Al Fayed both died.

Diana Death Anniversary Marked
31 Aug 2007
Among the absentees at the service was Mohammed al-Fayed, the father of Diana's Egyptian boyfriend. Al-Fayed, owner of the luxury London store Harrods, accuses Britain's royal family of ordering the couple's murder to prevent them from marrying. Diana died in the early hours of August 31, 1997, alongside Dodi al-Fayed, following a crash in a tunnel. Despite comprehensive police inquiries ruling out foul play, some Britons share al-Fayed's suspicions that the deaths were not an accident. An official inquest into the deaths will begin on October 2, propelling Diana into the headlines once again.

Diana Inquest: Royals on the Stand?
04 Mar 2007
Mohamed al Fayed, whose son Dodi died alongside Diana in a Paris car crash 10 years ago, wants to call Diana's ex-husband Prince Charles and her ex-father-in-law the Duke of Edinburgh as witnesses. The multimillionaire owner of the luxury Harrods department store, who is convinced the couple was murdered, won a major legal challenge last week when London's High Court ruled that the inquest should be heard before a jury.

Diana's Death a 'Tragic Accident'
14 Dec 2006
An official UK police inquiry into the Paris car crash which killed Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed has found no evidence the couple were murdered. The evidence suggests Princess Diana was not engaged or about to get engaged and scientific tests showed she was not pregnant, he said.

Date set for princess's inquest
18 Dec 2003
The inquests into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed will be opened on 6 January 2004, it has been announced. Princess Diana, 36, and Mr Al Fayed, 42, died in a Paris car crash in 1997. There will be two separate inquests. Princess Diana's inquest will be held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, while Mr Al Fayed's will open in Reigate, Surrey. Dodi's father, Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, welcomed the news, but said he would continue to call for a full public inquiry into the crash.

Earl rules out Diana conspiracies
22 Oct 2003
Earl Spencer has dismissed conspiracy theories about the death of his sister Diana, Princess of Wales, describing an apparent prediction of her own death in a letter as a "bizarre coincidence". "Diana felt quite beleaguered by what we call the establishment in Britain and looked at ways they might get at her.” He told NBC's Today show he understood from handwriting experts, that letters allegedly sent by Diana to former butler Paul Burrell saying she feared for her life, were genuine. In the alleged letter, sent about 10 months before the fatal Paris tunnel crash in August 1997, Diana writes about her fears of an accident being planned involving her car.  The French inquiry in 1999 blamed chauffeur Henri Paul, who also died, concluding he had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs and had been driving too fast.

Al-Fayed challenges Duke to sue
22 Nov 1999
Mohamed al-Fayed has issued a challenge to the Duke of Edinburgh. Mr al-Fayed called on Prince Philip to sue him over his allegations that the Duke had "masterminded" a conspiracy to kill the Princess of Wales and his son Dodi.