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December 28, 2012 12:02 am
New information covering the period between February 1980 and January 1982 includes letters between Mrs Thatcher and Savile; notes of their private meetings; and correspondence between Number 10 and other government departments. The prime minister was following up matters Savile had lobbied her about relating to the charities he represented, which included Stoke Mandeville Hospital and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
One hand-written note from Savile to the prime minister thanks her for a lunch and states: “My girl patients pretended to be madly jealous and wanted to know what you wore and what you ate . . . All the paralysed lads called me ‘Sir James’ all week. They all love you. Me too!”
The file reveals that Mrs Thatcher met Savile in person on at least three occasions during the two-year period. This included a lunch, a Sunday meeting and a meeting at 10 Downing Street, which the prime minister’s private secretary described in a note as “a private word with the prime minister”.
Part of the file relates to Savile’s attempts to raise money to rebuild Stoke Mandeville Hospital, for which he was seeking a government donation. A £500,000 contribution from NHS funds was duly arranged between Mrs Thatcher and Norman Fowler, who was then cabinet minister in charge of the health service.
A note from one of Mrs Thatcher’s staff shows that even the prime minister was drawn in by the power draw of Savile’s celebrity status.
Discussing the arrangements for presenting Savile with a cheque, the note records that Mr Fowler’s office had been told to “do nothing to steal the PM’s thunder” – Mrs Thatcher was considering presenting the cheque herself, at Chequers.
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