Margaret and Jimmy



Today’s newspapers are preoccupied with released material from the National Archives from 1982, focussing on two separate issues – the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s role, understanding and belief in the Falklands Island conflict; and her personal relationship with Jimmy Savile.

Hearing this, the blogger, who worked on several charity events with the late Sir Jimmy Savile (at that time known only as a celebrity charity fund-raiser), rushed straight to the archives to follow through one of the stories concerning Sir Jimmy and Baroness Thatcher.

A year before Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher  left office, and the same period of time before she authorised his knighthood, Jimmy Savile sat in my kitchen to drink tea at Sutton Bank. The bank was blocked and traffic coiled back towards Sutton Under Whitestonecliffe and up into the mists of the Hambletons. Jimmy Savile, in training, had run up the bank, a mile of hillside rising 800 feet up a one in four incline. It was not long into the New Year and he had recently returned from spending time with the Prime Minister.

How the conversation turned to the Falkland Islands I cannot now recall. Jimmy Savile declared that he had been in Margaret Thatcher’s company on Sunday 2nd May 1982. Whilst walking together, on receipt of a note her face had turned ashen. Jimmy Savile had looked at her with concern “What is the matter, Margaret”, he said. ” The Belgrano has been sunk”, was her reply.

And so, to the released archives I darted to check the authenticity of the tale. Was Jimmy Savile with the Thatchers at Chequers that fateful afternoon? Did he witness the moment? And did he really say, to her clear annoyance, “Well, it wasn’t there fishing, was it”?

The archives are silent. The players, Jimmy Savile, Dennis Thatcher and Margaret Thatcher are no longer in a position to comment. Perhaps a junior aide may have some memory of the moment? But the tale tells of an establishment familiarity that preceded and followed the Savile phenomenon, whatever its merits – or serious detractions.