PULP FICTION! BRANSON BINS BOOK ABOUT DI MURDER PLOT; Novel about Bid to Kill Princess in Car Crash Is Banned in Britain but America Fights for Rights
Gardner, Barry, McQUEEN, Alastair, The People (London, England)
Virgin boss Richard Branson has banned a sensational book which has assassins trying to kill Princess Diana in a car crash.
Outraged Branson pulped the novel Royal Blood - which had a haunting picture of Diana caught in a sniper's sights on the cover.
But the American publishing trade - which printed the full transcript of Andrew Morton's controversial Diana tapes - has swept into a bidding frenzy for rights to the book.
Branson, a close friend of Diana, had agreed to publish the book months before her tragic death.
Promotional material was prepared as SAS hero-turned author Barry Davies finalised a bizarre storyline featuring a contract killer firing a poison- tipped bullet at Diana.
It was due in British bookshops just days after Diana and Dodi Fayed were killed in the horrific Paris smash.
But within hours of the accident Davies was ordered by Virgin Publishing to keep the thriller project secret even though the company had pushed it as a prime project.
Angry Davies, who wrote the book months before Diana died, then retrieved the shocking manuscript and hawked it around the States.
And he is still on the verge of a million dollar deal for the book which tells how the Princess was killed because she planned to marry a Muslim.
The book caused a storm earlier this year when it was revealed the plot ended with pregnant Diana being hit by an AIDS-infected ice bullet fired from a deadly crossbow, which doomed her to a lonely, lingering death.
Virgin demanded changes when details were leaked - and AIDS charities which had been supported by the Princess led a storm of protest.
Branson, who often invited Diana to stay on his exclusive Virgin Islands paradise of Necker, was also believed to be embarrassed by the AIDS reference. The author re-wrote crucial passages changing the lethal virus to Ebola, an untreatable disease which turns human organs to mush.
And he introduced an American hero who dramatically acts as a human shield to take the fatal shot.
The new version ends with the head of a shady right-wing organisation called the Sovereign Committee, which ordered renegade SAS men to carry out the failed royal hit, stomping around his garden, hissing: "Next time we'll have her killed in a car crash."
Intelligence agencies and elite regiments including the SAS are regularly taught how to cause car smashes and make them look like accidents.
Last week French police said they were hunting a mystery car they believe may have caused the high-speed crash that killed Diana, 36, Dodi, 42 and chauffeur Henri Paul.
Several witnesses have told investigators how a Fiat Uno could have hit the Mercedes as it hurtled into the tunnel at high speed causing it to plough into a concrete pillar.
Davies, who has helped train royal bodyguards as well as secret service agents, said: "Everything in the plot is feasible. I know that from my security experience.
"The crossbow in the book is like something out of Star Wars and leaves no trace. I tested one for the regiment and I know these things are possible.
"In real life Diana was monitored by the security services and did put herself at risk when she gave them the slip.
"Wherever possible I have used real events. The two rogue SAS assassins are certainly based on people I knew from active service."
A colleague added: "The fact that the new ending has a plot to kill Diana in a car crash is purely coincidental.
"It was written long before she died. This is simply a writer spinning a thrilling yarn." The re-written book was finished early in July and 52-year-old Davies was told it would be on the shelves by September 18.
Then on August 31 came the tragic car crash as Henri Paul tried to outrun paparazzi photographers in a Mercedes limousine. …