London, Feb 21 : The former head of MI-6 dismissed claims that the British intelligence agency plotted the car accident that killed Princess Diana and her boyfriend, Dodi al Fayed.
Dodi's father, Mohammed Al Fayed, has consistently claimed the couple were executed as part of an establishment plot to prevent the mother of the future king marrying a Muslim and having his child, reports The Sun.
Making a rare exception to the principle in the security services never to comment on allegations made against it, Sir Richard Dearlove completely ridiculed the charges, saying they were "absurd" and "completely off the map."
Talking about the workings of the secret intelligence service, Dearlove, director of special operations for the agency at the time of the 1997 car crash in Paris, said they did have a licence to kill, but had to get a nod from the Foreign Secretary first.
Lawyer Ian Burnett, for the coroner, asked him: "During the whole of your time in SIS (the Secret Intelligence Service or MI6), from 1966 to 2004, were you ever aware of the service assassinating anyone?"
"No I wasn't. I had extensive knowledge of the service and what the staff were doing. All significant plans requiring authorisation and clearance would eventually land on my desk," Dearlove said.
Burnett asked:" Was there any operation of any kind against or in respect of the Princess of Wales or Dodi Fayed that summer - eavesdropping, surveillance?"
Dearlove replied: "Absolutely not."
He revealed that MI6 has a legal duty to seek the authorisation to perform any operation that involved breaking the law, such as bugging, adding that the agency did not request any permission with regard to the princess in 1997.
He added that no eavesdropping, bugging, surveillance operation or "anything anyone could think of" was being conducted against either Diana or Dodi when they vacationed together weeks before the tragedy in Paris.
He also told the jury it was "utterly ridiculous" to claim that Princes Philip and Charles were active members of MI6 and "absurd" for Mohammed Al Fayed to claim the security services and the Duke of Edinburgh in reality run Britain.
"I do not want to be flippant. I'm tempted to say I'm flattered, but this is such an absurd allegation that it is difficult to deal with," Dearlove said.
"It's completely off the map. I cannot think of any other way of saying it," he added.