Co-editors: Seán Mac Mathúna • John Heathcote
Consulting editor: Themistocles Hoetis
Field Correspondent: Allen Hougland


Suspicious deaths caused by car crashes in the UK
Seán Mac Mathúna, John Heathcote
Back to Flame Home Page

Background to the death of Princess Diana

"Psychological modification had become a military science which was not only researched by regularly practiced, that some one could be persuaded to believe that they were a stunt driver, driving through a building made of cardboard, or that could be a victim of deliberately induced stress which was sufficient to disturb the balance of their minds" Open Verdict, p221

Suspicious deaths in the Defence industry caused by car crashes

Deaths in the defence industry

The death of King Ghazi in 1939

The Death of William McRae

Auto-erotic deaths linked to intrigues in British politics


Tony Collin's book Open Verdict: A Account of 25 Mysterious Deaths in Defence Industry (1) contains a detailed investigation into strange deaths linked to the British defence industry during the 1980s. There have been a number of deaths in which investigators have alleged that people were killed by the intelligence services in Britain - or those working on it's behalf on a "plausible deniable" basis. These include the peace campaigner and famous rose grower Hilda Murrell (who died after being taken from her house after discovering a burglary in 1984), and more controversially, the former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. His strange and sudden resignation in 1976 following a sustained campaign against his government by various elements within MI5. He later developed an illness similar to Alzheimer's Disease. A rumour that he had died of "botched anesthetic" were mentioned in Smear! Wilson and the Secret State by Robin Ramsay and Steven Dorrill (Grafton, London, England, 1992).

Hilda Murrell who died after being taken from her house after discovering a burglary in 1984

Dorril in another book he co-wrote with Anthony Summers Honeytrap claimed that Stephen Ward, the osteopath as the centre of the Profumo affair in Britain was "killed on the orders of MI5". The authors say that an unnamed MI6 officer told them that Ward "was deliberately given a drugs overdose" by Stanley Rytter, who is alleged to have worked for MI5. Dorrill and Summers further claimed in an article in The Guardian (3rd May 1988), that their MI6 contact told them that "Ward was a threat", and that there were "sex photographs, which could damage the Macmillan government and the royal family".

Suspicious deaths in the Defence industry caused by car crashes

There are four deaths in Open Verdict which were caused by suspicious car crashes. I have taken a few examples from this book as they have a certain resonance after the death of Princess Diana in Paris in August 1997, and the revelations of the former MI6 officer Richard Tomlinson.

In March 1987, in Popham near Basingstoke on the A33, David Sands did a U-turn at 80 mph on a duel carriageway at high speed crashing into a derelict café, strangely with two extra cans of petrol in his car boot. This lead to him being burned beyond recognition by the fire that engulfed the car. He worked for a company named Esams, (Elliot Automation Space and Advanced Military Systems Ltd) Marconi's sister company on star Wars contracts. Specifically "on the simulation of signals technologies and a secret application directly related to stealth, EW (electronic warfare) and intelligence gathering". (p189, & see chapter 4).

On 10th April 1987, Stuart Gooding drove across to the wrong lane in Cyprus and hit a lorry coming in the opposite direction, the same day that David Greenhagl fell from a bridge in Britain. The only personal details given was that Gooding was aged 23 and a scientific officer, and at the Royal Military College of Science. Since independence in 1960, Britain has held 93 square miles of Cyprus for its military bases which include an outpost for GCHQ and EW related operations. Greenhagl worked as a "defence contracts manager" at the defence division of ICL (International Computers Ltd). His death occurred 130 yards from a police station.

Michael Bakers worked at Plessey Major Systems in Poole on System X when he had his "accident" on 3rd May 1987. He was also a signals specialist in the territorial unit of the SAS (Special Air Services). Allegedly Baker was taking two friends to Kingsbridge Lakes to teach them fly fishing when his BMW crashed went` through the central reservation of a dual carriageway and overturning. Although, strangely yet again, neither of his passengers were injured, Baker died of brain damage at the scene of the crash. It was claimed he had "lost concentration" which led to the coroner recording a verdict of accidental death. Neither passenger appeared to be very forthcoming on the fine details of the crash. One was reported as being totally resistant to any inquiries.

In 1982, Professor Keith Bowden whose work involved sophisticated military computer simulations, drove his BMW across a duel carriageway and down a railway bank. According to Collins, "an accident investigator hired by her (Hilary Bowden, his widow) solicitor says someone removed the new tires on the car at some point before the crash and replaced them with worn-out retreads". With echoes of Henri Paul, it was claimed later by the police that he had been drinking, but Hilary Bowden said:

"We were very shocked by that because l had been told by a doctor that he had not been drinking, by a policeman he had not been drinking, and by the man who he was with all evening that he had not been drinking. I've only that information to go on".

Joe, an former airforce engineer was an informant of Collins when he worked on Computer News - the first mainstream publication to highlight the coincidental deaths or workers in the British defence computer industry. Joe described a crash which had remarkable similarities to some of the incidents detailed above. He related to Collins how he spun his car at high speed across a dual carriageway, only being saved by the fact that the car :

"hit dense brush on the central reservation and came to a halt facing in approximately the right direction. When he realised with some surprise that he was unhurt, apart from a minor whiplash injury, he tried to move the car and found that the handbrake was on. He had no recollection of what had happened, but assumed that for some reason that he had attempted a hand brake turn at high speed. He felt his life was still in danger"

Deaths in the defence industry

What is the link between all these (deaths) ? Is it simply overwork or is there something more sinister afoot ? Doug Hoyle MP, reported in The Guardian, 28th March, 1988.

Diana is said to have feared that MI5 could try and kill her in a helicopter crash (Sunday Mirror, January 4th, 1998). Such "accidents" have happened before in the past in the British defence industry, and more recently when a Chinook helicopter stuffed full of intelligence personnel mysteriously ended up being scattered over a Scottish hillside in 1995. Within a few days of the alleged Soviet spy and GCHQ worker Geoffrey Prime appearing in court in 1982, a senior GCHQ radio operator Jack Wolfenden died instantly "when his powered glider went into a shallow dive and crashed into a Cotswold hillside in perfect flying weather. He was an experienced pilot and they was no sign of illness or mechanical failure to explain the crash". His colleague, Ernst Brockway was found hanging a few months later, leaving no suicide note. His widow, Janet, told reporters "my husband was a sick man and that's all there is to it. I have been told by the police and GCHQ to say nothing". After the inquest, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, replying to a question in the House of Commons, stated that Brockway and Wolfenden had been cleared of any suspicion of spying.

Mark Wisner, was a Professional Technical Officer who worked on the Tornado aircraft at the Aeroplane and Armament Establishment (A&AEE). On 24th April 1987. according to Open verdict, he was found dead at his home wearing high-heel women's boots, suspenders and a PVC top with nine feet of cling film wrapped around his face. A hole had been left for the mouth, and a plastic bag had been placed over his head. No exact time of death is usually given in cases of this nature. (David Sands, his company EASAMS, also dealt in software for the Tornado fighter). It was reported afterwards that he was a transvestite, although none of his work colleagues were aware of this.

Wisner died exactly a week after Shani Warren, a secretary to the Divisional Manger of a firm called Microscope, which specialise in "intelligent electronic systems". Soon after her death on 17th April 1987 her company was bought by GEC Computers - it's first acquisition for seven years for £16 million. She was found dead in a lake, "gagged with a blue scarf, a noose was tied around her neck, her ankles were secured with a tow rope and her wrists were tied behind her back. She had been face down in 18 inches of water for an indeterminate period". Her car - which was found parked in a layby adjoining a lake, was "an immaculate black Vauxhall Cavalier". However, Collins reports that it was later found "to have a faulty gear box which prevented it being driven away in first or second gear" It was later determined by a Home Office pathologist that Shani had tried to strangle herself, gagged herself, bound her ankles, tied her hands behind her back, and hopped in stiletto heels into the shallow water were she drowned".

Richard Pugh, who had recently left a company which was involved in "digital networks and exchanges, C3i for NATO and associated EW equipment" tied himself virtually head-to-toe with rope and was "accidentally asphyxiated".

Stephen Drinkwater, who worked in the highly classified copying department in GCHQ was found asphyxiated with a plastic bag over his head in his bedroom by his father in 1983. Collins reports that there was speculation at the time that his death may have been linked to the Prime affair - but the coroner recorded a verdict of misadventure.

Stephen Oke, in 1985 was found hanging from a beam from a beam in a loft in his home in Cornwall where he was employed at GCHQ's most advanced listening post at Morwenstow. The coroner was "puzzled by the fact that a piece of string was found twisted around Stephen's hands and tied in a reef knot, but he was told by the police that Stephen could have done this himself". At the time his wife and children were on holiday in the Midlands whilst he redecorated the kitchen. Amongst the unanswered questions of the case was that cigarettes were found at the scene - although Stephen did not smoke - and a brandy bottle was found in the dustbin - although he did not drink spirits.

The death of King Ghazi in 1939

Arab suspicion at the involvement of the British Security services, notably MI6 in the death of Princess Diana is perhaps based on more than general suspicion of the West, and the belief that her relationship with Dodi was causing anguish for the racists in the British Establishment.

In A Brief History of Saddam's Iraq, (from Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge, by Said K Arubish in The Guardian, January 22nd, 2000) one particular section stands out. We are given a basic outline of the modern history of what was called Mesopotamia, and was then occupied by the British during World War One, who were 'given a mandate' (like with KFOR in Kosovo today) to rule it from 1920. By this time of course, Iraq had assumed enormous strategic importance as it contained some of the worlds greatest oil reserves. According to the author:

Under King Faisal I , who ruled from 1921 to 1933, the monarch had deputised for the British, but his son, King Ghazi was totally anti - British and instinctively populist. He was killed in 1939 in a mysterious car crash - a formative event for Saddam Hussein, who grew up obsessed with avenging the death of Ghazi. Like most Iraqi's, he blamed the British and the Iraqi governing class for the death.

The article then goes on to list the various woes that usually befall non-Western countries with strategic reserves, especially of oil. Saddam's route to power followed military coups and radical purges of anyone considered to be tainted with communism, and he effectively was consolidated as a dictator with the backing of the Western powers, who were only too eager to pay for their control of oil reserves with the blood of those who originally lived there.

It is worth noting that Ghazi's death in 1939, as someone opposed to British hegemony in the Arab world, came on the brink of the War, the outcome of which was decided almost as much at Al Alamein, as at Kursk in 1943. His death can only be seen as benefiting the British at the time, to judge the popular reaction as reported in the article.

Obviously, the plan to kill Milosevic as reported by Richard Tomlinson, was not the most original idea that had ever been hatched at MI6.


1 Open Verdict: an Account of 25 Mysterious Deaths in The Defence Industry. Tony Collins, edited by Stephen Arkell. Sphere Books, London, England, 1990.

© 1997