Live updates

New documents relating to IRA attack at event hosted by Margaret Thatcher are released

More details have emerged for the first time about a bomb attack in a Brighton hotel which was planned to kill Grantham born Margaret Thatcher.

The late PM's hairdresser William Thorne

New documents have been revealed relating to the Tory Party Conference Baroness Thatcher was hosting - when an explosive planted by the provisional IRA went off in a hotel room in the early hours of the morning.

They include a letter she wrote to her hairdresser thanking him and also apologising for cancelling an appointment. Mrs Thatcher survived the attack, but five people died and 31 were injured. It's 30 years on Sunday since the bomb blast happened.

A letter to William Thorne

Margaret Thatcher's hairdresser speaks out about Brighton bomb

The man responsible for doing Margaret Thatcher's hair has spoken out for the first time about a bomb attack in Brighton 30 years ago which was organised to try and kill her. Mrs Thatcher was hosting a Tory Party Conference at the Grand Hotel in 1984 when the attack by the provisional IRA took place.

The Grantham born former Prime Minister escaped unhurt, but the bomb killed five people and seriously injured 31. Now her hairdresser at the conference, William Thorne, has spoken out for the first time, revealing how she pressed on with the conference, but personally apologised to him for cancelling a hair appointment.

The huge bomb was planted by a member of the provisional IRA in a hotel bathroom, and it detonated just before 3am. The Prime Minister, who was up at the time writing her keynote speech, survived and insisted the conference would still go ahead. On Sunday it will be the 30th anniversary of the blast.

Advertisement

Bust to commemorate Margaret Thatcher unveiled

In life she was considered a divisive politician, lauded by some, but blamed by many in our region for the demise of the mining industry.

But as the first anniversary of Margaret Thatcher's death approaches, a museum in her birthplace of Grantham has seen a renewed interest in her life and legacy.

As a new exhibition on the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain opens, Helen Steel went to meet a sculptor who wants to portray the Iron Lady in a positive light:

Thatcher sculpture to be unveiled in Grantham

Bronze Margaret Thatcher sculpture

A bronze bust of Margaret Thatcher will be unveiled at museum in her home town of Grantham today.

Designed by Lisa Hawker, the figure will join an exhibition dedicated to the former Prime Minister.

A condolence book, signed by more than 3,000 people, will also be on view to the public.

Could Government papers vindicate Scargill?

Newly-released cabinet papers appear to show Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government did have a secret "hit list" of more than 70 pits earmarked for closure, In what could be a case of vindication at last for the former miners' leader, Arthur Scargill.

The government and the National Coal Board said at the time they wanted to close 20 collieries. But the documents reveal a plan to shut 75 over three years.

And it's also confirmed today that Mrs.Thatcher considered sending in troops to break the year-long miners' strike in the 80's. David Hirst reports.

Advertisement

Released papers reveal "hit-list" of 75 mines

Newly released papers from Margaret Thatcher's time at Number 10 have shown she may have planned to close over 70 pits.

The documents reveal that 75 pits were being considered for closure Credit: National Archives

The secret "hit-list" means that the government may have been looking at a further 50 closures than the 20 that were talked about by the government and National Coal Board.

The document reveals they wanted to close the mines over a three year period.

Arthur Scargill, then leader of the Yorkshire National Union of Miners, had always claimed the government were planning to close more mines than were being discussed publicly.

Margaret Thatcher's cost of keeping up appearances

As Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher's immaculately coiffed blonde locks were as much a part of her image as her famous handbag - and newly-released government files show just how much time she spent keeping up appearances.

US President Ronald Reagan talking to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Credit: Press Association

Her appointments diary for 1984, released by the National Archives, show that she had 118 hair appointments in the space of 12 months.

In June, when she was hosting world leaders at an economic summit in London she had hair appointments on five consecutive days.

The diary also confirms her reputation as a workaholic who found it difficult to relax.

Ministers believed Russian funds were being sent to miners

Mikhail Gorbachev was the Russian leader during the miners' strike Credit: Press Association

Margaret Thatcher's government was desperate to stop cash from the Soviet Union reaching the striking coal miners, according to newly-released Government papers.

Official files from 1984 released by the National Archives show ministers believed hundreds of thousands of pounds were being channelled to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) from Moscow.

But even though the union's assets had been sequestered by the courts after its president, Arthur Scargill, refused to allow it to pay a £200,000 fine for contempt, officials admitted there was little they could do to stop the flow of roubles.

Thatcher and Gorbachev meeting in 1984 Credit: Press Association

Mrs Thatcher was told the best they could hope for was that a NUM courier might be picked up by Customs trying to enter the country with "a suitcase full of bank notes".

Minsters were alerted by MI5 to the Soviet financial lifeline for the miners in early November 1984. A few days later the Soviet news agency TASS reported publicly that £500,000 had been raised to support the strike.

Although the money was supposed to have been donated by Russian miners, the Government had little doubt that the funds could only have been transferred abroad with the approval of the Soviet authorities.

Thatcher considered calling in troops during miners' strike

Thatcher secretly considered calling in the troops during the miners' strike Credit: Press Association

Margaret Thatcher secretly considered calling out the troops at the height of the miners' strike amid fears union action could destroy her Conservative government, according to newly released files.

Government papers from 1984, released by the National Archives, show ministers were so concerned at the outbreak of a national docks strike while the miners were still out, they considered declaring a state of emergency.

Plans were drawn up for thousands of service personnel to commandeer trucks to move vital supplies of food and coal around the country.

It was probably the closest Mrs Thatcher came to defeat in her battle with the miners but the scheme was never implemented after the dockers' action petered out after less than two weeks.

The epic, 12-month confrontation between the Conservative government and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and its left-wing president Arthur Scargill was one of the defining episodes of the Thatcher era.

It saw some of the worst industrial violence the country had witnessed, with hundreds injured in brutal picket line clashes between police and miners, and ended in crushing defeat for the NUM.

Load more updates