Tory corruption is to be kept secret. Two files entitled “Cementation contract: Mark Thatcher and the Omanis” are listed as being “retained” for 65 years. Two others were “temporarily retained” with no release date.
Under public records legislation, official files are released to the National Archives after 20 years.
Last year the Cabinet Office chose not to fully release government files for the first time in 50 years. That seems to now have become the tradition. The decision not to release the files was taken by John Whittingdale—who coincidently was an aid to Margaret Thatcher at the time the files were produced.
The £300 million business deal was for property firm Cementation International—for which Mark Thatcher worked as a consultant—to build a university in Oman. Other bidders complained that Thatcher used her influence with the Sultan of Oman. Her private secretary at the time said her conduct had a “whiff of corruption”.
The files mentioned “other allegations”.
In 2005 Mark Thatcher was convicted and given a four-year suspended jail sentence and a fine in South Africa for his part in an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea.
Among the other files listed as being retained is a series of Number 10 papers about the royal family. The secret files include one entitled “Career of Prince Andrew Duke of York” and another entitled “The Prince of Wales’ Special Projects Unit”.
Also held back is a series of files relating to the Spycatcher case, which concerned the government’s efforts to suppress the memoirs of the former MI5 officer Peter Wright.
They did release a document that showed that in 1983 Margaret Thatcher’s aides wanted to publish pictures of nine month old Prince William to distract media attention away from a huge CND protest.