SECRET documents have confirmed that a teenager tried to assassinate the Queen when she visited New Zealand more than 36 years ago.
Security Intelligence Service files reveal that a .22 rifle, with a discharged cartridge in the breech, was recovered from the fifth floor of a building would-be assassin Christopher John Lewis had chosen.
The papers confirm that police officers and members of the public heard ‘what they took to be a shot’ as the Queen’s limousine passed through Dunedin on October 14, 1981.
The possibility of a firearm being discharged in the vicinity of the Queen was ‘highly likely’, the SIS concluded.
But the angle of fire would have made it difficult to hit the Queen as buildings screened her from view, although she was visible briefly on four occasions, the papers stated.
The files were released under an Official Information Act request to the SIS by news website Stuff.
Now police are to re-examine the case, amidst renewed accusations the New Zealand establishment attempted to cover up the incident at the time.
After a former Dunedin detective went public about the assassination attempt in 1997, an SIS memo stated Lewis, who was 17 at the time, had intended to kill the Queen. But he did not have the equipment or a vantage point to carry out the attack, it said.
The incident was played down by New Zealand police, who reportedly told local and international media the apparent sound of a gunshot was a council sign falling over.
Lewis was not charged with treason or attempted treason but was convicted of a much lesser offence.
He was later charged with the murder of a mum and the kidnapping of her child. He killed himself in Mount Eden Prison, Auckland, while awaiting trial in 1997. He was 33 at the time.
Yesterday, New Zealand police said deputy commissioner Mike Clement would ‘oversee an examination of the relevant case file’.