BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Radio
TodayBBC Radio 4

Listen Again
Latest Reports
Interview of the Week
About Today
Today at 50
Message Board
Contact Today

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

Weekdays 6-9am and Saturdays 7-9am How to listen to Today
The diary of a kidnapping banner

Lord Hailsham's diaries reveal a previously unknown plot to kidnap the Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

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The unpublished papers, some written in a cryptic shorthand cracked by off-duty cryptanalysts at GCHQ, were given to the University of Cambridge’s Churchill Archives Centre.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 Characteristically, he agreed to suppress the story to save the career of his bodyguard and it remained unpublished to this point.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
Lord Hailsham's diary entry

It reads:

“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.”

Listen icon

Top Stories

Listen again to today's programme

  • Best of Today 
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Today | Listen Again | Latest Reports | Interview of the Week | About Today | Today at 50 | Have Your Say | Contact Today

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy