Margaret Thatcher’s son, Sir Mark, left Britain on his father’s advice after senior civil servants became concerned he was “trying to exploit his mother’s name” and was “driven by greed”, a new book reveals.
Fears about possible conflicts of interest emerged when Sir Mark joined his mother on a trade mission to India, Dubai and Oman in 1981, according to Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography by Charles Moore, which is being serialised by The Daily Telegraph.
A senior official who complained about Sir Mark’s presence was said to have been berated by Mrs Thatcher.
Later that year Oman’s government gave a construction contract to a company that Sir Mark was working for as a consultant. Three years later, the Observer newspaper reported the alleged connection.
Clive Whitmore, Mrs Thatcher’s principal private secretary from 1979 to 1982, is quoted as saying in the book: “Mark was driven by greed and reluctant to pass up any opportunity.”
Mrs Thatcher had “an air of resignation about it all, but was indulgent towards Mark”, he added.
“The rational PM knew well what he was up to, but the mother found it difficult to be tough with him.”
Denis Thatcher advised his son to go to the US to avoid suggestions he was using Baroness Thatcher’s name to make money.
Sir Mark bought a house in Dallas, Texas, and asked for $25,000 from the UK Government to pay for extra security measures at the property.
His mother responded: “May I first have a realistic estimate? The sums seem enormous – way beyond what I could reimburse.”
However the final bill was $61,618, with the Cabinet Office paying half.
“I gratefully accept the Cabinet Office proposal,” wrote Mrs Thatcher. “Mark’s security is endangered because of my actions as prime minister and these safeguards are, I believe, justified.”