Number 10 gets the jitters over Thatcher's memoirs

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THE CABINET Office has vetoed several passages of politically explosive memoirs due to be published in separate books this autumn by Lady Thatcher and her former party chairman, Kenneth Baker.

The move confirms the potential embarrassment that Lady Thatcher's memoirs, and a television series featuring her, could cause the Prime Minister, John Major, and his senior colleagues.

The Cabinet Office has objected to passages in the memoirs on the grounds that they reflect on the performance of civil servants, who are unable to respond, and that they breach the confidentiality between Cabinet ministers.

Under voluntary rules drawn up in 1976, former ministers submit drafts of their memoirs for scrutiny prior to their publication. Both Lady Thatcher and Mr Baker are understood to have co-operated with the requested changes.

However, the code covers only material relating to their period in office. According to one source, the elements of Lady Thatcher's book likely to prove damaging deal with the political scene after she left office.

Neither the Cabinet Office nor Lady Thatcher's office would comment last week on changes to the manuscript.

The former Prime Minister is also expected to settle some old scores against Lord Lawson, her longest-serving Chancellor, and Lord Howe, the former Foreign Secretary. The first volume of her memoirs is due to be published in October, after the Conservative Party conference.

Mr Baker's book is expected to recount political episodes in which Mr Major took part as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Chancellor and finally as Prime Minister. His memoirs will be published in September and, like Lady Thatcher's, will be accompanied by a BBC TV series.