Revealed: Jimmy Savile's close friendship with Margaret Thatcher

Civil servants redact secret Downing Street file following sexual-assault revelations, reports Cahal Milmo

Correspondence showing the depth of the friendship between Sir Jimmy Savile and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is unveiled today in a secret Downing Street file that has been heavily redacted by civil servants following revelations about sexual abuse by the late entertainer.

The 21-page dossier released under the 30-year rule by the National Archives shows Savile's extraordinary access to the highest echelons of British society, chronicling lunches and personal letters between Mrs Thatcher and the DJ in the 1980s.

They show how Savile curried favour in political circles and was granted invitations to Chequers with the then Prime Minister. Savile, who was invited on the basis of his fundraising for Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, where it has subsequently been suggested he also carried out abuse, wrote a letter of effusive thanks to Mrs Thatcher after one lunch in 1981. Written on headed notepaper featuring a picture of himself and advertising a charity run completed two years earlier, Savile wrote: "My girl patients pretended to be madly jealous and wanted to know what you wore and what you ate. All the paralysed lads called me 'Sir James' all week. They all love you. Me too!!"

Another memo shows that Savile used a lunch with the Prime Minister to seek government – and personal – donations from Mrs Thatcher towards the rebuilding of Stoke Mandeville's world-renowned spinal injuries unit, as well as issuing an invitation for her to appear on his Jim'll Fix It show.

The memo, in which an official asked Mrs Thatcher if she had offered money for the hospital, contains a reply in her handwriting revealing she had promised "personal money". It adds: "Promised to get government contribution."

It is claimed that Savile, who was knighted in 1990 for services to charity, became a regular visitor to Chequers, spending New Year's Eve with the Thatcher family on a number of occasions. The question of whether to contribute NHS funds to the Stoke Mandeville project caused consternation in the then Department of Health and Social Security, where one official wondered if it would be appropriate to make a "symbolic gesture" such as the first brick of the redevelopment. It was eventually decided that a donation of £500,000 would be made from public funds because the government did not want to be seen to be eschewing funding for those with disabilities after the end of the International Year of Disabled People in December 1981.

Notes on the file show that several pages were removed and material from other entries deleted for 40 years by officials using exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act on 11 October this year – a week after ITV broadcast a documentary revealing allegations of sexual assault against Savile. Sources told The Independent that the redactions were not relevant to Operation Yewtree, the ongoing Scotland Yard investigation into Savile's crimes which has since uncovered 450 potential victims. It is understood the redacted material, which includes a note of a telephone message and letter from Savile to Mrs Thatcher, has not been passed to police.

The file casts light on the way the broadcaster curried favour in political circles and was granted invitations to Chequers. The file shows that Savile was also written to personally by Mrs Thatcher a year earlier to assure him that his desire for a change in the covenant system for charities was being given her personal attention. A change along the lines suggested by Savile was eventually included in the Budget.

There are six notes throughout the dossier stating that material has been "deleted and closed" for a further 40 years under exemptions granted by the FOI act. It is understood that the exemptions used by officials in the Cabinet Office cover an obligation to withhold personal information and information given in confidence.

Speaking her mind: the Thatcher files

Margaret Thatcher insisted she pay nearly £2,000 towards the search for her son after he went missing in the Sahara, the files reveal. Mark Thatcher went missing for six days during the 1982 Paris-Dakar rally and was eventually found after an air search by the Algerian military. But elation turned to bureaucratic wrangling after Mrs Thatcher said it was imperative the taxpayer was not left footing the bill. An invoice of £1,784.80 was eventually presented to the Prime Minister, who wrote to her officials: "I must pay... We can therefore say that no extra cost has fallen on the British taxpayer. To who do I make out the cheque? MT."

Geoffrey Howe may have given the speech which led to her resignation but it seems that from the very start of her premiership, Margaret Thatcher was no fan of her first Chancellor's oratory. The released files show that the Prime Minister unbraided Howe for his Budget speeches, ordering him curtail his statement in 1982 "by at least 1/3". Mrs Thatcher wrote: "I have one overwhelming impression of this speech – it is so detailed that the general shape and purpose of the Budget is lost."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all