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Margaret Thatcher 'considered suing BBC's Today show'


Denis Thatcher, here with his wife on the steps of No 10 in 1979, called for the editor of the BBC's Today programme to be firedPicture copyright
Getty Photography

Picture caption

Denis Thatcher, here along with his spouse on the steps of No 10 in 1979, known as for the editor of the BBC’s Today programme to be fired

Margaret Thatcher considered suing BBC Radio 4’s Nowadays programme for libel, up to now secret papers reveal.

In 1988, the previous top minister meditated criminal action after a section on the convey when compared “Thatcherism” to Hitler’s Remaining Answer, newly launched Cabinet Place Of Work recordsdata exhibit.

The then Today editor now admits it was “almost certainly unwise” to have broadcast it.

In Any Case, no prison motion was taken, But Mrs Thatcher’s husband Denis wrote the BBC a private letter of complaint.

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The offence used to be as a result of one of the vital runners-up in a competition organised collectively with the Sunday Telegraph to jot down a “mini-saga” in no more than 50 words, with an additional 15 phrases allowed for a title.

There Have Been Sixty Four,000 entries, including one from Vincent Hill of London entitled Thatcherism: the final Solution, which was once learn out on the programme on 14 January 1988.

‘Revolting defamation’

The piece envisaged a global wherein Mrs Thatcher had legalized Laborious medicine.

Consequently “Respectable shops replaced bankrupt drug syndicates. Crime figures plunged. Crematorium shares surged,” it read.

Within The story, the weak died, and “Simplest the worthiest survived” while “the unfit died of freedom”.

A file now released to the National Archives at Kew show the object went down badly at No 10, which sought legal recommendation on whether or not it was once libellous.

The Advice was once sure, it used to be “a specifically revolting defamation”.


Transcript of the “Mini-saga” item broadcast on the Today programme on 14 January 1988:

Thatcherism: the ultimate Solution, through Vincent Hill of London

Ingenious: individual option need to be paramount. With growing confidence she legalised Laborious medication. Prices fell sharply. Authentic retailers replaced bankrupt drug syndicates. Crime figures plunged. Crematorium shares surged. Metropolis populations thinned because the susceptible spirited succumbed. Unemployment vanished. Best the worthiest survived. No One might whinge. The unfit died of freedom.


Mr Thatcher, incensed through what he had heard, wrote a private letter of grievance to the BBC’s then chairman Marmaduke Hussey.

His typewritten letter is Within The file, with a handwritten “Pricey Duke” and “Regards to you each, yours ever, Denis”.

Mr Thatcher wrote: “The extent and depth of political bias Within The BBC is a topic of opinion, But this can be a shame judged by using any standard alternatively low.

“I cannot believe that the administration of a public broadcasting device can continue to rent a producer who publishes so foul and deliberate an untruth against SOMEONE on such a subject. Indubitably such gross professional misconduct can neither be excused nor condoned?”

Picture copyright
Nationwide Archives

Image caption

A letter to the BBC’s chairman and a written memo from Denis Thatcher complained concerning the “foul libel” in opposition to his spouse

The editor of the programme on the time, Phil Harding, now says it was “most likely unwise” to have broadcast the article.

But he says he used to be no longer told of Mr Thatcher’s intervention.

“So Far As I Will see he wrote a letter calling for me to be sacked. I knew there’d been a fuss. I didn’t understand he’d written that letter and that’s the reason the first time I’ve considered it. It was once fairly a shock.”

‘No apology’

Mr Harding says he was later advised by a Downing Boulevard insider that Mr Thatcher was an avid Lately listener: Mrs Thatcher listened to elements of the programme; he listened to all of it.

“Very frequently it was he who advised Maggie what had been on, and in doing so he would launch right into a tirade that will begin with the phrases, ‘You Can By No Means bet what these dash-dash folks on the BBC have achieved now.'”

Picture caption

Marmaduke Hussey was the chairman of BBC’s board of governors from 1986 to 1996

Any Other file In The file reveals that Marmaduke Hussey’s identify had been on a listing of possible invitees to a Downing Boulevard reception, However used to be struck off through Mr Thatcher.

In a handwritten be aware Mr Thatcher wrote: “Never Within The history of public broadcasting has so foul a libel been revealed in opposition to SOMEBODY, let on my own a first-rate minister.”

There Is Not Any indication Within The file of what happened subsequent, nor is there the rest In The BBC’s personal written archives at Caversham which sheds gentle.

Phil Harding says he used to be talked to by using his bosses and admitted he should have kept a closer eye on the mini-saga collection, But says he isn’t privy to any formal apology with the aid of the BBC.

“My guess would be there used to be phone name from someone, perhaps Duke Hussey to Denis Thatcher.”



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