Letter: MI5 and Wilson's resignation

Share
Related Topics
Sir: I have just seen the video of the recent Channel 4 production of Harold Wilson's resignation in 1976. I feel, for the sake of record, I should add a few details which give a better perspective.

In 1974 Harold Wilson telephoned me in the afternoon of the day before he was appointed Prime Minister and asked me to come to his house in North Street. He began the conversation by saying that he expected to be called to Buckingham Palace the next day. He then stated that he had decided to accept this office for a period of two years at the utmost. I asked him the reasons and he replied that there were medical and personal reasons that made it impossible for him to retain this office as Prime Minister for longer. He told me that even with a short period he had been "the longest-serving Prime Minister". He said that he could not carry the "burden" any longer.

After the Prime Minister had taken office he invited me to a private luncheon at Downing Street. I was again alone at this meeting. After lunch he invited me to come to his study. When we arrived there it was found that the key for the study could not be traced. He had therefore not used this study before, and after waiting for about 15 minutes, the key was produced. As we were settling down in Mr Heath's study he looked around the room and said, in a joking way, "You can talk quite frankly to me in here. There is only you, I and MI5 listening," pointing to a hole in the wall where some picture had been previously removed.

Within a month of Harold Wilson's appointment I happened to meet his doctor, whom I knew fairly well. He committed no indiscretion but gave me a hint as to his medical condition. Prior to this meeting I had always admired Mr Wilson's fabulous memory and it was already clear to me, when I spoke to Harold Wilson this time, that his memory was very good but as was apparent from previous discussions, not as accurate.

I strongly believe that Harold Wilson's preoccupations with MI5's investigations were somehow connected with his progressive medical state. I think Harold Wilson was very intrigued with MI5's interest but had an ironic attitude towards it. He always considered them as being a somewhat ridiculous attempt to unsettle his position. I can never remember an occasion when he mentioned these facts without a smile .

He resigned exactly on the date he had told me.

Lord KISSIN

House of Lords

London SW1

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
New SNP MP Mhairi Black distinguished herself in Westminster straight away when she made herself a chip butty in the canteen  

The SNP adventure arrives in Westminister - but how long before these new MPs go native?

Katy Guest
The Public Accounts Committee found widespread concern among civil servants that they would be victimised if they spoke out about wrongdoing  

Nikileaks explained: The sad thing about the Nicola Sturgeon saga is that it makes leaks less likely

Jane Merrick
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?