Mark Thatcher

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Mark Thatcher

Born (1953-08-15) 15 August 1953 (age 65)
NationalityFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Education Harrow School
  • Diane Burgdorf
    (m. 1987;div. 2005)
  • Sarah Jane Clemence
    (m. 2008)

Sir Mark Thatcher, 2nd Baronet (born 15 August 1953) is a British businessman. He is the son of Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Sir Denis Thatcher, and is the twin brother of Carol Thatcher.

Margaret Thatcher former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was a British stateswoman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. She was the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century and the first woman to hold that office. A Soviet journalist dubbed her "The 'Iron Lady'", a nickname that became associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style. As Prime Minister, she implemented policies known as Thatcherism.

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Head of UK Government

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, until 1801 known as the Prime Minister of Great Britain, is the head of government of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister directs both the executive and the legislature, and together with their Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Monarch, to Parliament, to their political party and ultimately to the electorate.

Denis Thatcher British businessman, husband of Margaret Thatcher

Sir Denis Thatcher, 1st Baronet, was a British businessman and the husband of Margaret Thatcher, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.


His early career in business frequently led to questions being raised that he was benefiting from his mother's position, notably in relation to the Al-Yamamah arms deal. He left the UK in 1986, and has since lived in the United States, Switzerland, Monaco, South Africa, Gibraltar, Barbados, Guernsey, and Spain. In 2004 the Sunday Times estimated his wealth at £60 million, most of which they suggested was in offshore accounts.

Al-Yamamah arms deal

Al Yamamah is the name of a series of record arms sales by the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia, paid for by the delivery of up to 600,000 barrels (95,000 m3) of crude oil per day to the UK government. The prime contractor has been BAE Systems and its predecessor British Aerospace. The first sales occurred in September 1985 and the most recent contract for 72 Eurofighter Typhoon multirole fighters was signed in August 2006.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Switzerland federal republic in Central Europe

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a sovereign state situated in the confluence of western, central, and southern Europe. It is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities seated in Bern. Switzerland is a landlocked country bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. It is geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi), and land area of 39,997 km2 (15,443 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are located, among them the two global cities and economic centres of Zürich and Geneva.

In 2005 he was convicted and given a four-year suspended prison sentence and a fine in South Africa in relation to the 2004 Equatorial Guinea coup d'état attempt.

The 2004 Equatorial Guinea coup d'état attempt, also known as the Wonga coup, failed to replace President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo with exiled opposition politician Severo Moto. Mercenaries organised by mainly British financiers were arrested in Zimbabwe on 7 March 2004 before they could carry out the plot. Prosecutors alleged that Moto was to be installed as the new president in return for preferential oil rights to corporations affiliated to those involved with the coup. The incident received international media attention after the reported involvement of Sir Mark Thatcher in funding the coup, for which he was convicted and fined in South Africa.

He has two children by his first wife, Diane Burgdorf. He married his second wife, Sarah Jane Russell, in 2008. On the death of his father in 2003 he became Sir Mark Thatcher when he succeeded to the Thatcher baronetcy, a hereditary title which had unusually been given to his father in 1990 (this being the only baronetcy created since 1964). [1] [2]

Thatcher baronets

The Thatcher baronetcy, of Scotney in the County of Kent, is a baronetcy created for the husband of Margaret Thatcher, Denis Thatcher, on 7 December 1990, following the resignation of his wife on 28 November. The current holder is Mark Thatcher, who succeeded his father in 2003.

Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are titles of nobility, positions or styles that are hereditary and thus tend or are bound to remain in particular families.

Baronet A hereditary title awarded by the British Crown

A baronet or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess, is the holder of a baronetcy, a hereditary title awarded by the British Crown. The practice of awarding baronetcies was originally introduced in England in the 14th century and was used by James I of England in 1611 as a means of raising funds.

Early life

Thatcher and his twin sister, Carol, were born six weeks prematurely by caesarean section on 15 August 1953, the same year that their mother qualified as a barrister. Their early years were spent in Chelsea, London. [3] Their mother was narrowly defeated in her bid to become the Conservative Party candidate in the 1955 Orpington by-election. She was first elected to Parliament at the 1959 general election. The children, aged six at the time, featured in her first television interview. [3] His sister observed: "All my childhood memories of my mother were just someone who was superwoman before the phrase had been invented. She was always flat out, she never relaxed, household chores were done at breakneck speed in order to get back to the parliamentary correspondence or get on with making up a speech." [3]

Carol Thatcher British journalist

Carol Jane Thatcher is an English journalist, author and media personality. She is the daughter of Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister from 1979 to 1990, and Denis Thatcher. She has written biographies of both her parents and also produced a documentary about her father which contained his only public interview. She won the fifth series of the reality show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!.

Caesarean section surgical procedure in which one or more incisions are made through a mothers abdomen and uterus to deliver one or more babies

Caesarean section, also known as C-section, or caesarean delivery, is the use of surgery to deliver babies. A caesarean section is often necessary when a vaginal delivery would put the baby or mother at risk. This may include obstructed labor, twin pregnancy, high blood pressure in the mother, breech birth, or problems with the placenta or umbilical cord. A caesarean delivery may be performed based upon the shape of the mother's pelvis or history of a previous C-section. A trial of vaginal birth after C-section may be possible. The World Health Organization recommends that caesarean section be performed only when medically necessary. Some C-sections are performed without a medical reason, upon request by someone, usually the mother.

Barrister lawyer specialized in court representation in Wales, England and some other jurisdictions

A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialise in courtroom advocacy and litigation. Their tasks include taking cases in superior courts and tribunals, drafting legal pleadings, researching the philosophy, hypothesis and history of law, and giving expert legal opinions. Often, barristers are also recognised as legal scholars.

Mark was sent to board at Belmont, Mill Hill preparatory school at the age of eight [3] [4] and then to Harrow School, which he left in 1971 having passed three O Level exams. He went on to study accountancy but failed his accountancy exams with Touche Ross on three occasions. [5]

Preparatory school (United Kingdom) in the UK, school preparing children for secondary level

A preparatory school in the United Kingdom is a fee-charging independent primary school that caters primarily for children up to approximately the age of 13. The term "preparatory school" is used as it prepares the children for the Common Entrance Examination to secure a place at a private independent secondary school, including the British public schools. They are also now used by parents in the hope of getting their child into a state selective grammar school. Most prep schools are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), which is overseen by Ofsted on behalf of the Department for Education.

Harrow School English independent school for boys

Harrow School is Public School for boys in Harrow, London, England. The School was founded in 1572 by John Lyon under a Royal Charter of Elizabeth I, and is one of the original seven public schools that were regulated by the Public Schools Act 1868. Harrow charges up to £12,850 per term, with three terms per academic year (2017/18). Harrow is the fourth most expensive boarding school in the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

GCE Ordinary Level subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education

The O Level is a subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education. It was introduced as part of British educational reform alongside the more in-depth and academically rigorous A-level in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Those three jurisdictions replaced O Levels gradually with General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) exams over time. The Scottish equivalent was the O-grade. The O Level qualification is still awarded by CIE Cambridge International Examinations, the international counterpart of the British examination Board OCR, in select locations, instead of or alongside the International General Certificate of Secondary Education qualifications. Both CIE and OCR have Cambridge Assessment as their parent organisation. The Cambridge O Level has already been phased out, however, and is no longer available in certain administrative regions.

The children were 16 years old when their mother entered the Cabinet for the first time as Secretary of State for Education and 25 when she became Prime Minister at the 1979 general election.

Having taken various short-term jobs Thatcher moved to Hong Kong, where he built up a network of business connections, particularly in the Middle East and in motor racing. In 1977 he set up Mark Thatcher Racing, which ran into financial difficulties. [5]

Missing during 1982 Paris-Dakar rally

On 9 January 1982 Thatcher, his French co-driver, Anne-Charlotte Verney, and their mechanic went missing for six days in the Sahara Desert whilst driving a Peugeot 504 in the Paris-Dakar Rally. They were declared missing on 12 January. His father flew to Dakar, where a large-scale search was launched, including six military aircraft from three countries and Algerian ground troops. On 14 January, the Algerian military spotted Thatcher's party 50 km (31 miles) off course. [5] This caused international embarrassment to his mother. The Prime Minister insisted on paying £2,000 personally towards the cost of the search, and an unpaid 11,500 dinar hotel bill, one third of which was for drinks, caused diplomatic embarrassment. [6]

Before competing he said:

In 2004, Thatcher wrote about his experience:

Business career

During the mid to late 1980s, concerns were frequently expressed about possible conflicts of interest between his business interests and his mother's political visits. In 1984 his mother faced questions in the House of Commons about his involvement in representing the bid of Cementation, a British company and a subsidiary of Trafalgar House, to build a university in Oman at a time when the prime minister was urging Omanis to buy British. [5]

He has denied claims that in 1985 he received millions of pounds in commissions in relation to the £45 billion Al-Yamamah arms deal, a controversial arms sale by BAE to Saudi Arabia that was possibly the largest arms sale ever; he has not denied that a house in Belgravia, London, was purchased for him for £1 million in 1987 by an offshore company controlled by Wafic Saïd, a middleman in the deal. [9] In 1986 his mother again faced questions in the House of Commons, this time over her son's relationship with the Sultan of Brunei. [5]

Sir Bernard Ingham, the Prime Minister's press secretary, suggested that he could best help the government win the 1987 general election by leaving the country. [10] Margaret Thatcher's biographer, David Cannadine, stated that Mark Thatcher "traded shamelessly on his mother's name" and that he "continued to attract controversy and investigation from the tax authorities", much to his mother's embarrassment. [11] . [9] [12] Alan Clark mentions the "Mark problem" in his published diaries. [10] He moved to Texas, where he worked for David Wickins of Lotus Cars and British Car Auctions and met his first wife in 1984. [5] [10] In the United States he started Monteagle Marketing, a profitable company that sold whisky and clothing. [12] During this period he spent some time in Switzerland as a tax exile, until he was forced to leave after the Swiss authorities began to question his residency qualifications. [10] He helped arrange a contract for his mother's memoirs in the 1990s.[ citation needed ] A security alarm business he ran in the United States failed and in 1996 he was prosecuted for tax evasion, at which point he moved to Constantia, South Africa, with his wife and their two children. [9] [12]

In 1998 South African authorities investigated a company owned by Thatcher for allegedly running loan shark operations. According to the Star of Johannesburg, the company had offered unofficial small loans to hundreds of police officers, military personnel and civil servants, and then pursued them with debt collectors. [5] He claimed that officers had defrauded him and charges were dropped. [10] It was also suggested that he had profited from contracts to supply aviation fuel in various African countries. [13] In 2003, following the death of his father, he was allowed to use the title of 'Sir' due to his inheritance of the Thatcher Baronetcy a year before he was arrested in South Africa in connection with the 2004 Equatorial Guinea coup d'état attempt. He pleaded guilty to breaking anti-mercenary legislation in January 2005. [14] At this time the Sunday Times suggested that he had personal assets of £60 million, most of which was in offshore accounts. [5]

In 2016 historic documents relating to Thatcher and Oman, expected to be released under the 30-year rule, were retained by the Government. The Guardian noted that the decision was made by John Whittingdale, a former political secretary to Margaret Thatcher. [15]

2004 Equatorial Guinea coup d'état attempt

Thatcher was arrested at his home in Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa, in August 2004 and was charged with contravening two sections of South Africa's Foreign Military Assistance Act, which bans South African residents from taking part in any foreign military activity. The charges related to possible funding and logistical assistance in relation to an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea organized by Thatcher's friend, Simon Mann. He was released on 2 million rand bail. [16]

On 24 November 2004, the Cape Town High Court upheld a subpoena from the South African Justice Ministry that required him to answer under oath questions from Equatorial Guinean authorities regarding the alleged coup attempt. He was due to face questioning on 25 November 2004, regarding offences under the South African Foreign Military Assistance Act; these proceedings were later postponed until 8 April 2005. Ultimately, following a process of plea bargaining, Thatcher pleaded guilty in January 2005 to breaking anti-mercenary legislation in South Africa by investing in an aircraft without taking proper investigations into what it would be used for, admitting in court that he had paid the money, but said he was under the impression it was to be invested in an air ambulance service to help impoverished Africans. The judge rejected this explanation and Thatcher was fined R3,000,000 and received a four-year suspended prison sentence. An advisor to Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that: "We are confident that justice has been done", and did not indicate that the country would seek Thatcher's extradition. [14]

During his trial in Equatorial Guinea in June 2008 Simon Mann said that Thatcher "was not just an investor, he came completely on board and became a part of the management team" of the coup plot. [17]

Personal life

Thatcher moved to Dallas, Texas, United States, in the mid-1980s, where he met his first wife, Diane Burgdorf (later wife of James Beckett), in 1987. [18] Their first child, Michael Thatcher, was born in 1989, [19] and their second child, Amanda Margaret Thatcher, was born in 1993.[ citation needed ] In 1992, he became The Honourable Mark Thatcher when his mother was made a life peer. In 1996, he moved to South Africa following financial scandals in the United States. [5]

In 2003, he became the Honourable Sir Mark Thatcher when he succeeded to the hereditary Thatcher Baronetcy awarded to his father in 1990. [20] He and his wife announced their intention to divorce in September 2005 after eighteen years of marriage. His wife moved back to the United States with their children, the same year that he pleaded guilty in relation to an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea and questions were being asked in the government about whether he should be stripped of his title. [20]

Following his guilty plea and his divorce, he left South Africa in 2005 for Monaco [21] on a one-year temporary residency permit, while his wife and children returned to the United States. Thatcher was unable to get a US visa due to his South African conviction and remains barred from entering the United States. [22]

His Monaco residency was not renewed as he was said to be on a list of "undesirables" who would not be allowed further residency and he was required to leave by mid-2006. [21] [9] He was refused residency in Switzerland and settled in Gibraltar, where he married his second wife, Sarah Jane Russell, in March 2008. Russell is the daughter of Terence J. Clemence, a property developer, and sister to Claudia Viscountess Rothermere. She was formerly married to Lord Francis Hastings Russell, the younger son of John Russell, 13th Duke of Bedford. [23] [24] [25]

He was in Barbados when he received news of his mother's death. He returned to the UK to act as chief mourner at his mother's funeral, which took place at St Paul's Cathedral, London, on 17 April 2013. [9]

In April 2016, Thatcher was named in the Panama Papers scandal. [26]

Titles and styles

Thatcher is entitled the usage of the pre-nominal style "The Honourable" following the elevation of his mother to the peerage as a baroness in 1992; he shares this courtesy with his twin sister, Carol. After the death of his father in 2003, he inherited the Thatcher baronetcy which had been awarded in 1990, the first baronetcy created since 1964. [1] Following his conviction in relation to the Equatorial Guinea coup d'état in 2004, it was suggested that he should be stripped of the title. [20] [27]

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  1. 1 2 "The Baronetage". Debretts. Archived from the original on 25 February 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013. The creation of baronetcies lapsed in 1964; in 1990 the Conservative Government announced that this honour would be given to Denis Thatcher, but there have been no further creations
  2. "Points of Order". 18 December 1990. As I understand your ruling, Mr. Speaker, it is out of order for us in any way to criticise the advice that a Prime Minister gives to the monarch about granting honours. I was deeply critical when I proposed the introduction of my Bill. What is more, the House gave me leave to introduce it. I was supported by many hon. Members throughout the House. Although honours may technically be awarded by the Queen, we all know that advice is given by the Prime Minister. Just as it is in order to criticise Cabinet Ministers who may technically—
  3. 1 2 3 4 Woods, Judith (9 April 2013). "Margaret Thatcher: 'Yes, I wish I saw more of my children. But I can't regret". The Telegraph.
  4. "The busy M.P., wife and mother keeps time in hand for those emergencies". Finchley Press. 26 October 1962 via Margaret Thatcher Foundation.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Profile: Mark Thatcher". BBC News. 26 August 2004. Retrieved 22 August 2007.
  6. Swinford, Steven (28 December 2012). "Sir Mark Thatcher sparks diplomatic fracas over unpaid bar bill". The Telegraph.
  7. "1982: Mark Thatcher missing in Sahara". BBC News. 12 January 1982.
  8. 1 2 3 Thatcher, Mark (13 January 2004). "Lost in the desert". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 Leigh, David (11 April 2013). "Mark Thatcher's return to the spotlight". The Guardian.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Maguire, Kevin; White, Michael (26 August 2004). "Scratcher, the millionaire fixer". The Guardian.
  11. "Thatcher [née Roberts], Margaret Hilda, Baroness Thatcher (1925–2013), prime minister". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.
  12. 1 2 3 Tempest, Matthew (25 August 2004). "Profile: Sir Mark Thatcher". The Guardian.
  13. Fenton, Ben; Munnion, Christopher (26 August 2004). "Richest member of a famous family and its most accident-prone". The Telegraph.
  14. 1 2 "Thatcher fined over 'coup plot'". BBC News. 13 January 2005.
  15. Roy Greenslade (21 July 2016). "Why should files on Mark Thatcher (and Profumo) remain secret?". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  16. Tempest, Matthew; Jeffery, Simon (25 August 2004). "Mark Thatcher denies coup charges". The Guardian.
  17. Pallister, David (18 June 2008). "Thatcher was integral to coup plot, Mann tells court". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
  18. Cabrrouy, Gabriel (14 December 2007). "Thatcher catching on at Highland Park". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008.
  19. Charlie Cooper (17 April 2013). "After the Iron Lady's granddaughter Amanda opens funeral service at St Paul's Cathedral - we introduce you to the rest of the Thatcher family". The Independent. ESI Media.
  20. 1 2 3 Barnett, Antony; Bright, Martin (16 January 2005). "Pressure grows to strip Thatcher title". The Guardian.
  21. 1 2 Willsher, Kim (5 December 2005). "A sunny place for shady people but Monaco doesn't want Mark Thatcher". The Guardian.
  22. "Thatcher faces hurdle to U.S." The Washington Times. 19 January 2005.
  23. Ward, Victoria (10 April 2013). "Sir Mark Thatcher visits his mother's former home". The Telegraph.
  24. Walker, Tim; Eden, Richard (30 March 2008). "Secret wedding for Sir Mark Thatcher". The Telegraph.
  25. "Mark Thatcher 'weds in Gibraltar'". BBC News. 30 March 2008. Retrieved 15 November 2010.
  26. "From Kubrick to Cowell: Panama Papers expose offshore dealings of the stars". The Guardian. 6 April 2016.
  27. "Sir Mark Thatcher". They Work For You.

Further viewing

Further reading

Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Denis Thatcher
(of Scotney)