Thatcher took 'three minutes' to make Belgrano decision

Mark Austin

Former ITV News presenter

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Credit: Reuters

Sir John Nott is perhaps most famous for walking out of an interview with Robin Day after the Falklands Conflict in 1982.

He didn't storm out of our interview but he did have some interesting things to say about the conflict 30 years ago.

He's on record as saying that the sinking of the Argentine warship the Belgrano was the "easiest decision of the war" .

What came as some considerable surprise to me though was that when he and the Chief of the Defence Staff flew to Chequers to inform Mrs Thatcher that the submarine the Conquerer had located the Belgrano, the prime Minister took just three minutes to make the decision to sink it .

And he was particularly critical of modern defence policy.

Even though he presided over a successful conflict which was won largely due to the aircraft carriers at his disposal, he believes the purchase of two new carriers now is a colossal waste of money.

He also says he's worries that none of the Cabinet today has real militatry experience: "At least when we sent men to war, we'd been to war ourselves."

Sir John believes we cannot desert the Falkland islanders now .

"We absolutely have to defend them" he says.