Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: Thatcher rage at suggestion by Home Secretary that the evil Moors Murderers could one day be paroled

Newly released State papers also showed that a communist spy avoided jail due to his brother's position in government, and that Winston Churchill raised the princesses salary due to difficulty finding wealthy suitors.

By Gavin Cordon

Margaret Thatcher was horrified at the prospect that Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley could ever be released, newly released government papers reveal.

Files released by the National Archives show that in 1985 Home Secretary Leon Brittan suggested Hindley could go free after 30 years, while Brady could be released after 40.

The suggestion provoked a furious reaction from Mrs Thatcher who was adamant they should both die behind bars, describing their crimes as "the most hideous and cruel of modern times".

Over a period of 18 months in the 1960s, Brady and Hindley, his accomplice, kidnapped and murdered five children in north west England.

The bodies of three of their victims were later found buried on Saddleworth Moor near Oldham.

In 1966 they were given life sentences with the trial judge recommending they should spend "a very long time" in prison. In 1985, in line with policy at the time, their cases came up for review for the first time by the Parole Board.

In a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Mr Brittan said that while he did not expect the board to recommend their release on this occasion, there would come a time when they could be safely released into the public.

"At present I have in mind a tariff of 30 years for Hindley and 40 years for Brady, implying that after 1992 and 2002 respectively the question of release (in 1995 and 2005 at the earliest) will be determined on risk grounds rather than on grounds of retribution or deterrence," the then Home Secretary wrote.

Mrs Thatcher, however, was having none of it.

"I think the sentences you are proposing are too short," she wrote.

"I do not think that either of these prisoners should ever be released from custody. Their crime was the most hideous and cruel of modern times."

Hindley made several appeals against her life sentence but was never released. She died in 2002, aged 60.

Brady was declared criminally insane in 1985 and confined in the high-security Ashworth Hospital where he died earlier this year aged 79.

Mole at heart of government avoided jail due to brother

A Communist spy who spent years passing secrets to the Russians escaped prosecution because his brother was a senior government adviser.

John Cairncross was one of the notorious Cambridge Spies - along with Kim Philby and Guy Burgess - recruited by Soviet intelligence while at university in the 1930s.

Note: Sir Alec Douglas-Home

He went on to hold a series of sensitive government posts and is thought to have been the first agent to alert the Soviets to Britain's programme to develop an atomic bomb, prompting Stalin to launch his own nuclear programme.

In 1964 - having been forced out of government service over suspicions of espionage in 1951 - he finally made a partial confession to MI5.

His admission raised the question as to whether he would be prosecuted. But in a note to Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home, cabinet secretary Sir Burke Trend also raised the delicate issue of his brother, Alec Cairncross, who happened to be the government's chief economic adviser.

Lack of wealthy suitors led to princess allowance raise

Winston Churchill's 1950s Conservative government raised the allowance for royal princesses because they were no longer able to find wealthy husbands to support them.

Government papers show that in 1952 it was agreed daughters of the monarch should receive a civil list allowance of £6,000-a-year on reaching 21, rising to £15,000 on marriage.

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Increase: Princess Margaret

The increase was extended to cover the Queen's 21-year-old sister, Princess Margaret, who was then still unmarried.

The rise was justified "by reference to the economic circumstances of the day, ie the fact that it is no longer possible, given existing rates of taxation, for a daughter of the sovereign to marry a husband who will be able to support her from his private fortune on an appropriate scale".

It still left royal princes better off, with sons of the monarch entitled to an income of £10,000 at the age of 21, increasing to £25,000 on marriage. It did not include the Prince of Wales who received a separate settlement from the Duchy of Cornwall.

Troops enjoyed undercover Christmas in Saudi Arabia

The RAF had to smuggle in Christmas trees for British troops massing for the invasion of Kuwait to avoid upsetting local religious sensibilities.

In November 1990, thousands of troops were assembled in Saudi Arabia in preparation for the US-led operation to retake Kuwait following its seizure by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Files show British commanders were determined they should celebrate Christmas in an "enjoyable and traditional fashion" before heading into battle.

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Invasion: Saddam Hussein

In a telegram to the Foreign Office, the British ambassador Sir Alan Munro said the morale-boosting arrangements included the "discreet importation" of Christmas trees "both natural and artificial" by the RAF.

"The religious police here regard these trees, however misguidedly, as a religious symbol and try each year to impede commercial importation, though some do slip through the net," Sir Alan explained.

He said "Father Christmas activities" and Christmas dinners were also planned - although well away from the view of locals as well as the TV cameras.

"I believe that this range of entertainment, while carrying some risk of mischievous exploitation by UK press, or of occasional but containable local offence to the Islamic puritans, is in line with our understanding with Prince Khalid," he wrote.

Nazi plans for Edward VIII too damaging to go public

Winston Churchill sought to block the release of secret Second World War documents revealing Nazi plans to install the Duke of Windsor as king in the event of a successful German invasion.

Captured German telegrams showed foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop hoped to lure the Duke to Spain where he would be offered the throne as part of an elaborate plan to persuade Britain to make peace.

After the war, historians sought to publish the exchanges as part of an official academic programme by the victorious Allies to release key Nazi documents.

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Proposal: Duke of Windsor

However, files show how Churchill tried to delay their release for up to 20 years amid concerns they would cast doubt on the true loyalties of the former king.

The telegrams revealed a convoluted plot to entrap the Duke, who had visited Hitler following his abdication in 1936 so as to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson and who, Ribbentrop believed, strongly favoured peace with Germany.

After the war, Churchill realised the release of the telegrams would be highly damaging to the Duke, raising fresh doubts about his true loyalties.

In 1953, he even wrote to US President Dwight Eisenhower.

The telegrams were finally published in 1957.

Belfast Telegraph


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