Leading Article: No right to know

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The Independent Online
RUDYARD KIPLING is said to be Baroness Thatcher's favourite poet, and though she did not actually quote him in her speech last week, her words certainly carried a Kiplingesque ring. As we report on page one, Lady Thatcher's scarcely veiled attack on her successor contained a lot of paraphernalia about stars, heavens, compasses and those wonderful old absolutes, victory and defeat. All very fine, all very uplifting, and all very far removed from pounds and pennies and what one of Kipling's contemporaries decribed as 'the world of anger and telegrams'. But if Lady Thatcher floats effortlessly above this material world, her son does not. A report last week claimed that the Hon Mark Thatcher had 93,142,139 Swiss francs in 11 bank accounts distributed among three financial institutions in Switzerland. That is the equivalent of about pounds 41.6m, and does not take into account money, shares and property that the Hon Mark may hold elsewhere. The exactness of the Swiss figure may be misleading and the report may not be true; it would need the most extraordinary journalistic resource to make Swiss banks cough up bank statements. But what is not in dispute is that the Hon Mark is exceedingly rich, with several homes and all the tax advantages of Swiss residency. How the Hon Mark came by this money remains a mystery. He has few known talents outside rally-driving, though of course there may be other sides to him which he has chosen not to reveal. He refuses to discuss it and we may never know. We do not imply anything illegal. Simply that, when it comes to the rich, 'intrusions into privacy' are not so easy as critics of the press believe.