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8 Sep, 2016 11:23

UK spies murdered runaway tycoon Berezovsky over Prince Philip ‘porn pics’ - Russian intel expert

UK spies murdered runaway tycoon Berezovsky over Prince Philip ‘porn pics’ - Russian intel expert

Russian business tycoon Boris Berezovsky was assassinated by British spies after threatening to hand over scandalous photos of Prince Philip to Moscow, a Russian intelligence expert and author has said.

Critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin have long speculated that one-time billionaire Berezovsky was murdered by pro-Putin hitmen in 2013. But Moscow espionage author Gennady Sokolov has now pointed the finger at British spies, insisting the killing was connected with scandalous photos of Prince Philip, according to British tabloid the Sun.

The alleged photos, taken in the 1950s at the Thursday Club – a drinking and social set of which Prince Philip was a member – reportedly show the Duke of Edinburgh at a party with other club members and half-naked women. Prince Philip is said to have been fully clothed in the pictures.

The snaps are believed to have been taken by Prince Philip's photographer friend Baron Nahum, but were reportedly copied by a Soviet spy, Evgeny Ivanov, who brought them to the USSR during the Cold War, the writer claims. The same Evgeny Ivanov seduced Christine Keeler, the lover of then-British War Minister John Profumo.

According to Sokolov, Berezovsky acquired the photographs at some point, and likely handed them over to the British authorities – taking them out of circulation and preventing the risk of a media frenzy which could have left the Duke of Edinburgh red-faced. Sokolov believes such a move would have been part of an effort by Berezovsky to get into the good books of the British government, as he was aiming to gain political asylum in the country.

“My sources suggest there are grounds to believe that Berezovsky – then exiled in Britain – had bought the so-called ‘Royal porno collection’ from its previous owner in Russia...he may have seen it as part of his ticket to become a British citizen, out of reach of the Moscow authorities,” Sokolov said.

“It is not unreasonable to suppose that these pictures were then discreetly handed over to the Windsors as part of the arrangement that saw him gain UK citizenship, and what he doubtless hoped would be a safe new life,” he added, according to the Sun.

However, Sokolov has also entertained the notion that Berezovsky didn't hand over the photos after all, and instead was preparing to pass them to Moscow as part of an effort to leave the UK and return to his home country.

“Later, Her Majesty’s secret services disposed of the oligarch because they did not need him any longer,” Sokolov said, as quoted by the Sun.

“Or, perhaps more likely, they feared or discovered that wily Berezovsky had made copies of the sensational photographs which he was preparing to push into the wrong hands,” the author added.

He went on to suggest that Berezovsky may have already used the photos to achieve political asylum in Britain.

Sokolov says he has seen the pictures, and they are “certainly embarrassing,” noting that the Russian spy who copied them referred to them as his “Royal porno collection.” He also claimed the pictures would end the monarchy if made public.

It's not the first time Sokolov has made a shocking claim regarding Berezovsky's death. In March 2015, the author said the tycoon was killed because he was preparing to give Putin evidence of a plot involving leading oligarchs to topple the Russian president in a coup. Sokolov said Berezovsky was murdered by Western secret service agents involved in the plot.

“I am convinced it was done by the Western secret services,” Sokolov said at the time, as quoted by Mail Online. “If Berezovsky's death is a puzzle for you, it is a problem solved for me. Boris was killed simply because he possessed certain secret information and was going to make it public. This is not just my guess, I know it for sure.”

Berezovsky was found dead on the bathroom floor of his Ascot, UK, home in 2013, with a ligature around his neck. He fled Russia in 2000, taking refuge in London, after being found guilty in several high-profile fraud cases in his home country.

READ MORE: Berezovsky death: Police say suicide, family say murder, coroner records ‘open verdict’