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New documents cast doubt on alleged suicide of Hitler’s deputy

The events leading up to the suicide of Adolph Hitler’s deputy Rudolph Hess were reconsidered today after freedom of information request forced the disclosure of a British Military Police file, the Daily Mail reports.

In 1987, Hess was found hanged by an electrical cable in the fortified compound in Berlin he was imprisoned following his 1946 conviction at Nuremberg.

The verdict of the Special Investigations Branch of the British Military Police is that Hess committed suicide and no others were involved. However, historians are now claiming that these new files released under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) cast doubt on the official version of events.

The report contains the text of Hess’s suicide note, in which, according to an English translation, he claimed he was writing ‘a few minutes before my death’. Hess’s son, however, has stated that the note refers to a period in 1969 when Hess had a perforated ulcer in the duodenum and feared he could die.

Peter Padfield, the historian whose freedom of information request led to the report’s release, believes the note was planted on Hess’s body, adding “’The ‘suicide note’ appended to the report is surely bogus. For instance, passing his regrets to Freiberg  – he had done this some 20 years before when his wife and son visited him for the first time in Spandau. And there is no mention of his grandchildren.

“[The note] was forged. That doesn’t mean he was murdered, but it does suggest they were trying to cover something up”.

Pursuit of terrorists is ‘like an old fashioned tiger hunt’, said British general

A Freedom of information disclosure by the Ministry of Defence has revealed that a general’s choice of words provoked protest from colleagues, reports the Independent.

In 1989, when the British military was accused of operating a shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland, Army Commander Lieutenant John Waters compared shooting terrorists to “an old fashioned tiger hunt”. He wrote: “The way that the standard units and the specialist units should work together to get success can be compared with an old-fashioned tiger hunt”. And added: “The most experienced hunters are placed in what is judged to be the very best position from which to get a shot.”

General Charles Guthrie, now a peer, complained “the references in the letter to tiger hunting and killing are ill-advised”. General Guthrie asked his colleague to moderate his language. He wrote, in August 1989: “My main worry is that, whatever caveats are attached to the documents, their contents will leak out in a way which will cause embarrassment to you, the Army Department and Ministers. Bitter experience suggests that such quotable phrases become so widely discussed that they are almost bound to reach unauthorised ears sooner or later.”

The Labour MP Paul Flynn said: “I am all in favour of letting sleeping dogs lie, but this type of leadership is much worse than I had ever expected.”

NHS writes off thousands owed by treated visitors

The NHS has written off thousands of pounds owed by foreign nationals to the NHS for treatment in Wales, FoIA has revealed.

Almost £200,000 is owed between 2008 and 2011. In this period health boards have written off more than £185,000 of unpaid fees. The figures were obtained under FoIA by the Welsh Conservatives and reveal that the amount unpaid has risen sharply as health boards struggle to collect the costs of emergency and routine treatment.

A Welsh government spokesman said: “All visitors to Wales requiring NHS treatment are assessed as to their eligibility for free NHS treatment. All treatment received in an accident and emergency department is free to all… We are looking at what further measures can be introduced to support NHS organisations recover costs.”

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