Lord Hailsham's diaries reveal a previously unknown plot to kidnap the Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas-Home.
14 April 2008
A plot by left-wing students to kidnap Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home has been revealed for the first time in the coded diaries of former Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham.
The unpublished papers, some written in a cryptic shorthand cracked by off-duty cryptanalysts at GCHQ, were given to the University of Cambridge’s Churchill Archives Centre.
Perhaps the most astonishing revelation in his diaries is of a massive security breach in April 1964 which nearly resulted in the kidnap of Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home.
Unguarded overnight at Potterton House, Home found himself alone with the kidnappers but coolly talked them into abandoning the plot. Characteristically, he agreed to suppress the story to save the career of his bodyguard and it remained unpublished to this point.
The source is Home himself. Hailsham’s diary entry for January 9, 1977, notes how Home related the tale to he and other members of a shooting party at Birkhill, a country house near Cupar in Fife.
Lord Hailsham's diary entry
“An odd story of the 1964 election never published. Alec (then Prime Minister) was staying with John and Priscilla Tweedsmuir - who had no room for Alec’s private bodyguard. He went to the nearest town (Aberdeen?) and John & Priscilla left Alec for a time alone in the house. Knock at the door. Door answered by PM in person. Deputation of left-wing students from Aberdeen University. Said they were going to kidnap Alec. He: “I suppose you realise if you do the Conservatives will win the election by 200 or 300.” He asked and received permission to pack a few things & was given 10 mins grace. After that they were offered and accepted beer. John & Priscilla returned and the kidnap project abandoned. The bodyguard swore Alec to secrecy as his job would have been in peril.”