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Princess Diana was not murdered by SAS, Met Police say

Posted by Rattana_S On December - 17 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The Metropolitan Police have dismissed new claims about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and say there is no basis to reopen a murder inquiry

There is “no credible evidence” that the SAS was involved in the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Metropolitan Police are to announce.

For the last four months specialist detectives have been examining new claims that a member of the British Army’s elite special forces regiment was involved in the death of the Princess more than 16 years ago, and the Metropolitan Police is due to announce the findings on Tuesday.

However, a letter to those concerned, including the Royal Household, reveals that police have again closed their investigation after finding no evidence to support the claims.

In the leaked letter, seen by Sky News, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said: “Whilst there is a possibility that the alleged comments in relation to the SAS’s involvement in the death may have been made, there is no credible or relevant evidence to support a theory that such claims had any basis in fact.

“Having reviewed the exercise and its findings, I am satisfied that there is no evidential basis upon which therefore to reopen any criminal homicide investigation or refer the matter back to the coroner.”

Scotland Yard began a “scoping” exercise in August, in which they assessed the “relevance and credibility” of new information.

The force had been handed a dossier, believed to be from the Royal Military Police, which included claims that members or former members of the SAS were involved in the circumstances leading to the deaths of the Princess, her boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed and their driver Henri Paul in a Paris underpass on August 31, 1997.

The allegations are believed to have surfaced during the trial of Sgt Danny Nightingale, the SAS sniper convicted of illegal weapons possession, and relate to a letter from the former parents-in-law of Soldier N, a prosecution witness, about claims he had made in the past.

Officers have so far refused to comment on the content or origin of the material.

They are understood to have found that it is “not possible to prove conclusively what was or was not said”, adding in their concluding summary: “It is, however, very clear that in the extraordinary publicity and conjecture that followed the deaths and the inquests, there will have been those who, for whatever motivation, will have sought to demonstrate particular inside knowledge, or to claim some form of kudos or recognition.”

The investigation was unprecedented as the case had remained closed despite numerous murder claims, including from Mohammed Fayed, Dodi’s father.

A spokesman for the Met refused to comment on the leaked letter, but confirmed: “That scoping exercise is now complete. AC Rowley wrote to all parties and provided them with a summary report of the scoping exercise.

“In that letter AC Rowley made an undertaking that in order for them consider the report, the MPS would not make a formal statement until Tuesday, 17 December.”

A copy of the letter has also been sent to Lord Justice Baker, the coroner who presided over the 2008 inquest.

In December 2006 Lord Stevens, the former Scotland Yard Commissioner, published the findings of Operation Paget, which found that she was not murdered by British spies or the Duke of Edinburgh and she was not pregnant or engaged to Dodi.

His conclusion echoed that of the French inquiry in 1999, that Mr Paul was drunk and driving too fast.

At the inquest the jury returned a verdict of “unlawful killing” based on the “grossly negligent” driving of both Mr Paul and the paparazzi chasing the Princess.

This has been the first investigation by British police since.

(Reuters) – Designer collaborations are helping Hennes & Mauritz (HMb.ST) rise above a reputation for cheap chic, but the world’s second-biggest clothing retailer could do more to entrench that upmarket lift and defend its shrinking margins.

Fired up by blanket billboard advertising and a social media blitz, shoppers stormed H&M stores and websites on November 14 for the launch of a limited-edition collection by Parisian Isabel Marant, famed for her edgy bohemian designs.

H&M needs that buzz to help gross margins, which have fallen below 59 percent from almost 63 percent in 2010, while mid-market rival Inditex (ITX.MC) has improved theirs to about 60 percent from 57 percent.

While H&M declined to comment on Marant’s impact on figures, sales in stores open at least a year jumped by a bigger-than-expected 10 percent in November, which H&M attributed to cold weather boosting purchases of winter clothing.

The Marant range was H&M’s 13th guest collection since its first by Karl Lagerfeld in 2004, with later cameos from Stella McCartney, Jimmy Choo, Roberto Cavalli and Comme des Garcons.

That contrasts with H&M’s usual focus on low-priced basics, which puts it in the crosshairs of discounters like the Primark chain of Associated British Foods (ABF.L), which has expanded fast during the downturn in H&M’s European heartland.

The Marant range, on sale at around 250 of H&M’s 3,000 stores, retailed at a fraction of the cost of the designer’s own line, but double or triple the prices of H&M’s regular range.

By lunchtime, the H&M store on Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse had sold out of Marant’s chunky cardigans for 129 euros, tasseled boots for 199 euros and leather trousers for 249 euros. The H&M website was swamped, placing shoppers in a virtual queue. Many items were promptly selling for inflated prices on eBay.

“These collaborations really help the brand defend its margins, since virtually all these lines get sold out at full-price,” said Euromonitor analyst Ashma Kunde. “They are a great way to test their potential in higher margin business.”

H&M clearly sees that potential and has also moved to offer more premium products of its own and is quickly rolling out new mid-range stores branded “& Other Stories”, launched in March.

COUTURE ALLURE

This was the first November H&M has seen a big rise in sales since 2010, when sales rose 8 percent after H&M teamed up with Israeli designer Alber Elbaz from Lanvin to produce a sell-out range of party dresses and accessories. November sales had dipped 1 percent in both 2011 and 2012 despite collections from Italy’s Versace and France’s Maison Martin Margiela.

The appeal of exclusivity has prompted Britain’s TopShop to revive a collaboration with supermodel-turned-designer Kate Moss: “There is only one Kate,” said billionaire owner Philip Green. “Nobody else can have that.”

Other chains to adopt the formula include Gap Inc (GPS.N), which has teamed up with GQ magazine’s best new menswear designers in America, while L’Wren Scott, who has dressed a string of celebrities for red carpet occasions, is working with Banana Republic.

Santander analyst Rebecca McClellan estimates the early H&M designers generated up to 40 million euros ($55 million) in sales – not much for a company with annual sales of $18 billion. Of that, as much as 10 million euros went to pay the designer.

But the value of the H&M brand has risen to $18.2 billion from $13.8 billion in 2008, according to Interbrand, widening the gap to Zara on $10.8 billion and closing in on Louis Vuitton (LVMH.PA), the world’s biggest luxury firm, on $24.9 billion.

“While associated to a very small portion of revenues, overall the designer collaborations … help the H&M brand secure future earnings,” said Bertrand Chovet, head of the Paris office of Interbrand.

PRICING POWER

H&M does appear to be gaining pricing power. A survey conducted by Societe Generale showed it has hiked prices for its premium wares in the last two years, even as it continues to trim prices for basics. A basket of seven spring/summer items cost 395 pounds ($640) in 2013 compared with 195 pounds in 2011.

“An increase in top-end pricing for H&M … could balance price and gross margin erosion lower down the price range,” said Societe Generale analyst Anne Critchlow as she upgraded H&M shares to “buy” from “hold”.

But fashion experts think there are more lessons H&M can learn from luxury players if it wants a more enduring benefit than the collaborations, which sell out quickly.

“The quality of the product itself and the experience is as important as the actual collaboration,” said Ferdinando Verderi, creative director of ad agency Johannes Leonardo, noting many complaints about the H&M website during the Marant launch.

He said H&M should emulate Fast Retailing’s (9983.T) Uniqlo, which appointed minimalist German designer Jil Sander as creative director from 2009 to 2011 to produce permanent ranges.

H&M could also follow the example of players like Zara and Primark and invest more in its stores. Inditex has revamped dozens of flagship stores with sleek displays and targeted lighting for a more upmarket feel.

“H&M needs to better showcase its design credentials,” writes Kate Ormrod of retailconsultancy Verdict. “H&M has work to do to ensure its store portfolio remains on par.”

($1 = 0.7283 euros)

($1 = 0.6143 British pounds)

(Additional reporting by Astrid Wendlandt in Paris; Editing by Will Waterman)

Cristiano Ronaldo opened a museum in his honour in his birthplace on Sunday, which he said had extra room for the Ballon d’Or and many other trophies to come.

Standing next to his 2008 Ballon d’Or and 125 other individual and team awards dating back to his Madeira childhood, the 28-year-old Real Madrid and Portugal striker said the CR7 museum was a gift to his fans.

“Of course it’s a special day, it’s the opening of my museum and I am proud,” the Portugal forward, who has scored 33 goals this season, said. “I have room for more trophies. I don’t really want to mention specific ones. All I want is to win more awards and, if the Ballon d’Or comes, there is extra room here.”

Football’s world governing body named him, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi of Argentina and Bayern Munich’s French winger Franck Ribéry as the three finalists for the 2013 Ballon d’Or award, formerly known as Fifa world player of the year.

Ronaldo said he is not desperate to win the most prestigious individual award in the sport.”I hope that happens but I am not obsessed about it,” he said. The Ballon d’Or results will be announced on 13 January.

Despite the frenzy at the opening the space is more humble than an average museum. It occupies the ground floor of a discreet five-storey building, a few hundred metres from the Funchal city centre and with a view of the Atlantic.

With an idyllic sunny day greeting him back, it is easy to understand why Ronaldo took the chance to remember that leaving this place remains his hardest moment as a footballer. “You can’t win anything without sacrifice. Mine was to leave Madeira when I was 11 and try it out at Sporting. To move out to the mainland was the hardest thing in my career.”

Curious neighbours stood on their balconies to witness the ruckus, unusual on the quiet island with 260,000 inhabitants, famous for its luxuriant biodiversity, strong-flavoured bananas and fortified wine. It is not any 28-year-old that has the chance to cut the ribbons to a museum in his name but Ronaldo said his treasure cove deserved it. “Here is the evidence of what I have won, no one will take it away from here and these were things I wanted to share with my fans, show them what I have already achieved,” Ronaldo said.

The first piece on display, probably the smallest, dates back to when Ronaldo was eight and top-scored in a tournament with his first club Andorinha, Portuguese for swallow.

The next youth trophy mis-spelled his first name, attributing it to ‘Christiano’, and was half broken, contrasting sharply with the two shiny Golden Boots – won as Europe’s top scorer – and a lifesize wax figure of him in a Portugal shirt dominating the main room. “Does the statue look the same or what?” he asked. “No, I think it looks more handsome [than me],” Ronaldo joked.

Ronaldo also paid tribute to Manchester United’s former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who oversaw his rise to stardom over a six-year spell at the Premier League club, his family and his agent, Jorge Mendes.

All the match balls from games in which Ronaldo scored at least a hat-trick are also on display, the last from Portugal’s 4-2 win over Sweden that earned them a berth at Brazil’s World Cup.

The front page of the local newspaper Diario de Noticias da Madeira showed what the museum means to his people back home. It displayed an eight-year-old Ronaldo wearing an oversized pink shirt while receiving his first trophy with a shy smile under the headline “Trophies for the world to see”.

Siam Paragon the ‘most popular on Instagram’

Posted by Nuttapon_S On December - 15 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Bangkok’s Siam Paragon shopping mall is the most popular location among Instagram users, and Bangkok the second most popular city this year, the network’s blog announced.

A massive shopping complex that includes movie theatres and an aquarium, Siam Paragon was Instagram’s top-spot, edging out last year’s top photo spot Suvarnabhumi Airport, which dropped to number nine this year.

Siam Paragon was ranked second last year.

“Like last year, a popular location in Thailand tops the list,” the network’s blog reported.

Instagram is an online photo- and video-sharing service that enables users to take pictures and videos and share them on social networking services. It has more than 150 million users worldwide, with about 55 million photos being posted everyday.

Paris’ icon and landmark, the Eiffel Tower, which was number eight last year, has dropped out of the top-10 list. None of the top places to share a snap is in Europe, according to the Instagram blog.

Times Square, known as the “crossroads of the world”, was the second most Instagrammed place this year. Two other locations in New York City – Central Park and the High Line – are new to the most-popular list in 2013, along with Walt Disney World in Florida and the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas.

The 10 top locations for the network in 2013 were:

1. Siam Paragon shopping mall, Bangkok

2. Times Square, New York

3. Disneyland, California

4. Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas

5. Disney World, Florida

6. Staples Centre, Los Angeles

7. Central Park, New York

8. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

9. Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok

10. High Line, New York

The 10 “most-Instagrammed” cities in 2013 were:

1. New York City

2. Bangkok

3. Los Angeles

4. London

5. Sao Paulo

6. Moscow

7. Rio de Janeiro

8. San Diego

9. Las Vegas

10. San Francisco

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