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'Why McAlpine could never be thrown to the wolves', Scallywag issue 27, 1995
Why McAlpine could never be thrown to the wolves

Scallywag issue 27, 1995

We have revealed in several previous issues that while Lord Alistair McAlpine was riding high at Conservative Central Office as their principle fund-raiser, Margaret Thatcher was made aware that a high-powered police investigation into a huge and sordid paedophile ring was closing in on the former construction magnate.

Thatcher and other key players in The Party who knew that Tory funding was linked direct to arms dealing had enough on their grubby plates trying to cover that fact up. A potential scandal such as this, apart from the obvious embarrassment to the Conservatives and the Government - the Government of which she considered herself to be managing director and chairman - had untold dangers.

Cabinet divided

In fact, the situation came up at a select cabinet meeting, naturally in confidence. The view was roughly divided. Some wanted to throw McAlpine to the wolves. To distance themselves and the party from him and disown him. Others simply didn't believe it and argued he should be given the benefit of the doubt - unless he was arrested. Thatcher agreed with the latter and advised that McAlpine should merely get out of the limelight until everything hopefully blew over.

What she did not put before her colleagues was that if McAlpine was not protected by the full force of the establishment he was quite able to bring the whole Thatcher family down with him.

At the very core of the Al-Yamamah ('dove of peace') dirty arms dealings, now gradually coming to light, was a shady group of VIPs in the politico-business world who were proud to call themselves the Savoy Mafia. Alan Curtis, former head of the Lotus car company, has a permanent luxury suite in the famous hotel and it became a central area for most of what would go on.

While not particularly involved with any of the wheelings and dealings, Curtis did arrange several crucial meetings in the suite including introducing Mark Thatcher to the arms dealer Wafic Said. Mark had been introduced to Curtis by his father, a long-standing friend and golf partner. Because of his friendship with Denis, Curtis had often dined at both Chequers and Number Ten. He considered himself to be a true and trusted friend of the Thatcher family.

The money

The magazine Business Age, in a penetrating expose, estimates that by the first decade of the 21st century the full incredible sum involved in Al-Yamamah is likely to be £100 bn. The brokers, fixits, go-betweens and middlemen are between them likely to cream off some ten per cent, around £10 bn. That kind of sum buys you a lot influence. Already, on the first stage of the deal, £35 billion has been involved.

At least £41 million of this has been probably paid into private off-shore bank accounts run by the Thatcher family. McAlpine, on behalf of the party, took a cool £30 million for central funds. Wafic Said, a slimy looking man at the best of times, has so far pocketed £120 million. On top of this, £50 million was paid to the fabulously wealthy Lebanese middleman Akram Ojjeh for making sure a similar French deal did not go ahead.

As Maggie sat in the cabinet room deliberating on what should be done about Lord McAlpine, she knew full well that if the government was rocked with a paedophile scandal, the Saudis in particular would run a mile.

It is now proved beyond doubt that at many levels, starting with Margaret Thatcher and continuing with John Major, and including the National Audit Office (which should be impartial), documentary information concerning the spin-off payments to Al-Yamamah has been ruthlessly suppressed.

Highest level

What cannot be shown except to the principle players themselves, was how the party was able to hush up the McAlpine sex scandal and make sure there was never a charge. This must have involved the investigating police and perhaps the CPO, along with most of the cabinet of the time, the high-flyers at CCO, and all the members of the Savoy Mafia. Influence must have been brought to bear from a very great height.

On the fringes of all this has always been Jonathan Aitken, a close friend of Mark's but disliked by his mother because, as she once sneered bitterly, "Aitken wears Carol's virginity like a trophy around his neck". Aitken is a founder member of the Savoy Mafia and, as a close friend of many members of the Saudi royal family, has done some deals with Wafic Said.

Now the paedophile scandal has blown over McAlpine is creeping back into influence at Conservative Central Office. He is intimately aware of all the skeletons in the cupboard. This puts him back into a position of extreme power and influence.

Heseltine's heart attack

What is also emerging is the real mystery behind the Heseltine heart attack in Venice. It had quickly been known to the party pundits that Heseltine had been having a naughty weekend with his long-time lover, Lady Sherborne, who he had taken to Venice. As soon as the heart attack became known, the Lady was whisked back to London and Mrs Heseltine flown out to be at her husband's bedside. But during that same clandestine period McAlpine had also been in Venice to have 'deep conversations' with Heseltine. It is now seriously mooted that, unable to see Thatcher because he was temporarily persona non grata, he had decided to threaten Heseltine that, if the party deserted him and threw him to the wolves, he would be a fatal embarrassment.

It is suggested that a combination of bedroom high jinx and the shock meeting with McAlpine brought about the heart attack.

Mark Thatcher, even crassly using his mother's name and influence, could never have got so involved with the world trade in weapons if his mother had not had such a complete obsession about the glories and value of the arms trade. She not only revelled in promoting arms sales to any tyrannical despot in any archaic corner of the world, but fully justified it all, by waving the British flag in terms of jobs and exports.

Mummy's boy

In fact, what the Thatcher administration did, seemingly as a concerted plan, was turn this country's economy into a system of militarisation, so that if we did ever stop selling arms it would scupper more than ten percent of the country's manufacturing economy. The UK had 20% of the world's arms trade, on top of the £20 bn our own Ministry of Defence spends annually in the industry. Piecemeal, most of the other areas in British manufacturing are being allowed to disintegrate.

Mark Thatcher, then, would only be seen by his mother as a paragon of virtue if he promoted the arms trade which she fully believes in as the most important factor in our economy.

Mark also, of course, is a leading light in the Thatcher Foundation, which after years of cajoling, bullying and plain begging, still falls £4m short of her aim of £10m. A sizeable amount of the £6m so far in the bank was drummed up by Mark in sordid, "you deliver the dosh, and I'll deliver the old lady" deals in the US. Again, Mummy would have seen him as the blue-eyed boy.

Favouring Iraq

The Al-Yamamah scandal has one further highly dramatic and sinister ramification. While the Iran-Iraq war was going on from 1980-1988, the first Al-Yamamah deal was signed in 1985. Saudi Arabia was extremely concerned at the upsurge of Muslim fundamentalism in Iran and therefore sided with Iraq, as did most of the Gulf States, and Jordan. In order to oil the wheels of the Al-Yamamah deal Thatcher agreed to change the goalposts and tilted our official foreign policy towards supporting Iraq.

This led to one of the greatest scandals of this century (still never satisfactorily resolved) - the Arms to Iraq expose. From 1985 onwards the whole affair reeked of corruption, cover-ups, cheating, lying, double standards and pure chicanery throughout the entire establishment - from the very top-most politician in power, to the highest echelons of the civil service, and throughout the whole Conservative Government. No one, least of all the two prime ministers involved, remained seriously unscathed. 

Except, of course, Lord McAlpine.

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