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Declassified Spy Papers Reveal a 1981 Attempt to Assassinate Queen Elizabeth II in New Zealand

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Declassified intelligence documents released Thursday reveal that a mentally disturbed teenager attempted to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II while she was visiting New Zealand in 1981.

The contents of the documents have led to claims that police tried to cover up the attempt, New Zealand news website Stuff reports. Subsequently, New Zealand police have launched an examination of the original investigation and case file.

While the Queen was touring the South Island city of Dunedin on Oct. 14, 1981, Christopher Lewis, then 17 years old, fired a single shot toward the Queen’s car, according to papers from the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS). No one was harmed.

Lewis confessed the crime to police who found a .22 rifle and used cartridge in the building where he shot the gun. Police feared the incident would jeopardize future royal visits, so they sought firearms and robbery charges, the documents suggest.

“Lewis did indeed originally intend to assassinate the Queen,” the intelligence service said in the papers, which were released following a media request. “However (he) did not have a suitable vantage point from which to fire, nor a sufficiently high-powered rifle for the range from the target.”

Police told the public the gunshot sound was a sign falling over.

Lewis claimed to be part of a right-wing organization called the National Imperial Guerilla Army, though police concluded the group only had three members, Agence France-Presse reports.

Lewis, who was later convicted for a string of serious offenses, was in jail for murder when he killed himself in 1997.

The release of the documents follows the recent publication of the Stuff series The Snowman and the Queen, which details the story about Lewis and his attempt to kill the Queen.

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