REVEALED: How The Queen was almost killed when teenager fired a bullet at her in assassination attempt on royal tour of New Zealand in 1981 as police officer and lawyer reveal the incident was hushed up

  • Christoper John Lewis attempted to murder the Queen with a .22 rifle in Dunedin
  • He missed, but two years later tried to kill Charles when he returned with Diana  
  • Police did not charge teen with treason as case was 'politically too hot to handle'
  • Former Dunedin police officer Tom Lewis said then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon feared the Royals would not return to New Zealand if word got out

Christoper John Lewis (pictured) tried to kill the Queen with a .22 rifle in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1981

Christoper John Lewis (pictured) tried to kill the Queen with a .22 rifle in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1981

A new report reveals how the government of New Zealand attempted to conceal just how close a young man came to assassinating the Queen during a diplomatic trip to the country in 1981.

As the Queen paraded in front of adoring crowds Christopher John Lewis, a 17-year-old local boy from Dunedin, took aim with a .22 rifle.

The Queen had stepped out of a Rolls-Royce to greet 3,500 well wishers when the deafening crack rang out across the crowd.

The shot flew past her head. 

Lewis had missed and aside from a brief moment of distraction the parade continued, the crowd unaware of what had just almost occurred. 

The young man from the nation's South Island had become obsessed with exterminating the Royal Family and, worryingly, the self-styled terrorist had come incredibly close to killing the British head of state.  

In the aftermath shamed New Zealand police launched a cover-up operation to disguise the seriousness of the event, a new investigation reveals.

According to a former Dunedin police officer, Tom Lewis, who worked on the 1981 case, police tried to play down the the attack.  

'You will never get a true file on that. It was reactivated, regurgitated, bits pulled off it, other false bits put on,' he said.  

Tom Lewis said then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon feared the Royals would not return to New Zealand if word got out about just how close the rogue teenager had come to killing the Queen, reports Hamish McNeilly for the website The Stuff.

He revealed the teenager's original statement was later destroyed in an official cover-up.

The incident was swept under the carpet by New Zealand police who did not charge the teen with treason because the case was 'politically too hot to handle'

The incident was swept under the carpet by New Zealand police who did not charge the teen with treason because the case was 'politically too hot to handle'

According to a former Dunedin police officer, Tom Lewis said then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon feared the Royals would not return to New Zealand if word got out

According to a former Dunedin police officer, Tom Lewis said then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon feared the Royals would not return to New Zealand if word got out

Murray Hanan, the would-be killer's former lawyer, said police decided not to charge the young man with treason - which in 1981 carried the death penalty - because they had received an order from 'up top'.

They believed it would draw undue attention to the event and cause deep embarrassment.

He said: 'The fact an attempted assassination of the Queen had taken place in New Zealand... it was too politically hot to handle. I think the government took the view that he is a bit nutty and has had a hard upbringing, so it won't be too harsh.' 

Lewis later claimed in a draft autobiography (entitled 'Last Words') that he had been visited by top brass from Wellington during the interrogation process who told him never to speak about the event.

In the manuscript he sent to US publishers Howling At The Moon Productions he described how police threatened him.

'If I was ever to mention the events surrounding my interviews of the organisation ... they would make sure "I suffered a fate worse than death"', he wrote.

Lewis's charge was later downgraded to possession of a firearm in a public place and discharging it. 

However, questions were asked of police at the time.  In the hours after the shooting officers were questioned over what had occurred.

They told press the distinctive noise was just a council sign falling over.

Later, under questioning, another narrative emerged. They said someone had let off a fire cracker nearby. 

Lewis (pictured) fired on the Queen from half a kilometre away, missing by just metres

Lewis (pictured) fired on the Queen from half a kilometre away, missing by just metres

Christopher Lewis was interviewed eight times by police after the incident.

The young man said he had been ordered to kill the Queen by an Englishman known as 'the Snowman' - of who he was immensely scared.

'The Snowman' had told Lewis about far right groups in Britain like the National Front and said he could take refuge in similar groups in new Zealand. 

Two years later the same teenager attempted to overpower a guard and escape from a psychiatric ward where he was being held in order to murder Prince Charles, who was visiting the country in April with the Princess Diana and their young son, William. 

Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, visit Auckland in New Zealand in 1983

Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, visit Auckland in New Zealand in 1983

His school career was marred with a number of expulsions: tipping over desks, playing with matches and showing porn to his classmates.

He left school for good at just 15.   

By the tender age of 17 Lewis had a history of armed robbery, arson and animal cruelty.  

His idols included Australian bandit Ned Kelly as well as cult leader Charles Manson - who ordered the murder of American actress and model Sharon Tate.

After the incident Lewis was sectioned and police found clippings of the Royal family in his grimy flat, as well as a detailed map of the Queen's route that day.

Written on the map were the words 'Operation = Ass QUEB' - assumed to to be the name he had given his 'mission'.  

And in 1995 when the Queen returned, the New Zealand government sent the man on a tax-payer funded holiday to the Great Barrier Reef.

'I started to feel like royalty,' he wrote in his memoir. 

When the Queen (pictured during her trip to new Zealand in 1995) returned the government sent Lewis on a beach holiday to ensure he would not launch another attempt

When the Queen (pictured during her trip to new Zealand in 1995) returned the government sent Lewis on a beach holiday to ensure he would not launch another attempt

In 1995 when the Queen (pictured this year) returned, the New Zealand government sent Lewis, now 33, on a tax-payer funded holiday to the Great Barrier Reef

In 1995 when the Queen (pictured this year) returned, the New Zealand government sent Lewis, now 33, on a tax-payer funded holiday to the Great Barrier Reef

At 33, Lewis (pictured in 1996) killed himself in his shared cell at Mr Eden prisons in Auckland

At 33, Lewis (pictured in 1996) killed himself in his shared cell at Mr Eden prisons in Auckland

They thought it safer to have him idling on a beach far from trouble. He was given free accommodation, spending money and a vehicle.

Lewis, however, was not under surveillance during this period.  

He would later go on to kill himself in Mt Eden Prisons in Auckland in 1997 - at the age of just 33 - while awaiting the trial of a woman and the kidnapping of her child. 

On the day he was found sat upright, dead in his cell, Lewis had previously been visited by his girlfriend.

She noticed nothing out of the ordinary apart from the fact Lewis turned down an offer to put money into his bank account.

Lewis's shared cell had an easel and paintbrushes, as well as TV and a typewriter in one corner, where he had begun working on his memoir.

At 3.15pm when a corrections officer opened the door to Lewis's cell he was found slumped in a metal chair 'in a lifeless state', reported the New Zealand Herald.

The guard initially though Lewis was asleep before he noticed the man's colour.

At 33, Christopher John Lewis, infamous for attempting to assassinate the Queen in Dunedin, was dead.

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