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Probe author Hilary Mantel over Margaret Thatcher killing story, demand Tories

By Zachary Davies Boren

Booker Prize-winning author Hilary Mantel's fantasy short story about assassinating Margaret Thatcher is "sick and deranged" and she should be investigated by police, Tory lords and MPs have said.

In an interview, Mantel recalled a moment in 1983 in which she saw the now-deceased former Prime Minister, and explained she thought about what it would be like to kill her.

"I thought: 'If I wasn't me, if I was someone else, she'd be dead'," Mantel told The Guardian.

Lord Timothy Bell, a friend and former PR adviser to Thatcher, said Mantel should be investigated by police following her remarks.

"Mantel needs to see a therapist," he told the Sunday Times.

"If somebody admits they want to assassinate somebody, surely the police should investigate. This is in unquestionably bad taste."

Stewart Jackson, Conservative MP for Peterborough, took to Twitter to slam Mantel as "sick and deranged" and full of "bile and hate".

Nadine Dorries, Tory MP for mid-Bedfordshire, also hit out at Mantel's controversial piece of fiction. She tweeted: "Having loved every word Mantel has ever written, I'm truly stunned, not because the subject is off limits, but for Margaret Thatcher's family."

Conservative activist and Times columnist Tim Montgomerie said Mantel's words were "so full of hate" and that he was "really disappointed" that The Guardian chose to promote the story.

When pressed, he said his issue with the story was one of "taste".

But Mantel, who twice won the Booker Prize and whose novel Wolf Hall is set to be adapted for a BBC2 series, told The Guardian: "I am concerned with respect, I'm not concerned with taste."

She responded to claims that the story, on which she had worked for 30 years, was cashing in on Thatcher's death last year: "I would have happily concluded the story in her lifetime but couldn't – it was my technical difficulty, not any delicacy."

She added: "I believe in walking that line. You mustn't be too timid to risk getting it wrong."

The story, in which a wealthy woman invited into her home a man revealed to be a Thatcher-hating assassin, was set to be serialised by The Telegraph, only for the conservative newspaper to scrap it for being overly offensive.

Telegraph Media Group said: "When the editors read the full story, it was decided that it was not something that Telegraph readers would appreciate."

Mantel was at the centre of controversy last year when she described the Duchess of Cambridge as a bland, "machine-made" princess.

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