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MT's official files as Prime Minister, 1979-90

MT's official files as PM can be read on this site as they are released, in full and free to all - the confidential files originally stored at No.10, the core record of her premiership.

The files have been copied at the British National Archives (TNA) at Kew in London and can be downloaded precisely as they appear in the reading room.

We are doing something more to help people make sense of this mass of information. The files are subject-based, logically enough, but that system makes it difficult to reconstruct the flow of paper across the Prime Minister’s desk at any point in time, depriving us of a sense of context and cross-winds, some of them overwhelming.

To combat this effect we are uploading a large selection of the most important documents from these files – thousands in total - to our powerful site database. You can search and sort by date, subject and other parameters, getting as close as anyone can now get to reconstructing the Prime Minister’s daily "Red Boxes", the rich diet of foreign and domestic policy papers submitted to her by the No.10 Private Office.

List and links to the PM’s files

Below are links to the downloadable files in numerical order. The subject terms are those used in the original filing system.

An average file has around 200 pages.

You can read here an account of how filing worked at No.10, and the system for archiving MT’s Prime Ministerial papers, both of which had their quirks.

Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Private Office files, 1979-1989

1979-89: Chancellor’s Private Office files [links to hundreds of digitised files from the Chancellorships of Sir Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson]

Engagement Diaries

An alternative way through the material is to read MT’s engagement diaries, jumping day to day.

The engagement diaries link directly to relevant documents in the site database, so this is a good way to recover the perspective from the Red Box.

File name Title Begins Ends Date of releasesort descending Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/2395 Prime Minister (Cementation contract: Mark Thatcher and the Omanis) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 May 4 Ends: 1988 Mar 9 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Closed for 65 years
PREM19/2545 Soviet Union (Visits to UK by President Gorbachev) (Part 1) Begins: 1987 Nov 20 Ends: 1988 Oct 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2503 Security (Case of Geoffrey Arthur Prime) Begins: 1983 Jul 1 Ends: 1987 Aug 11 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/372 Soviet Union (Political and propaganda use made by USSR of Moscow Olympic Games) Begins: 1980 Apr 22 Ends: 1980 Apr 26 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Unknown
PREM19/2396 Prime Minister (Cementation contract: Mark Thatcher and the Omanis) (Part 2) Begins: 1984 Jan 15 Ends: 1988 Mar 19 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Closed for 65 years
PREM19/2133 Elections (Election procedure) (Part 3) Begins: 1987 May 13 Ends: 1988 Mar 31 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2504 Security (Security of the Secret Services: Chapman Pincher's book 'Their Trade is Treachery'; Peter Wright case) (Part 5) Begins: 1987 Jan 8 Ends: 1987 Mar 12 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/607 Defence (Nuclear release procedures; understandings between the USA and UK on use of nuclear weapons and bases) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Apr 29 Ends: 1981 Mar 9 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Unknown
PREM19/2397 Prime Minister (Request by Electronic Data Systems to employ Mark Thatcher) Begins: 1987 Feb 1 Ends: 1987 Feb 23 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2272 Ireland (Meetings with the Taoiseach: Anglo-Irish Summits; Anglo-Irish relations) (Part 17) Begins: 1987 Feb 4 Ends: 1987 Nov 17 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/1183 Defence (Intelligence gathering operations) (Part 2) Begins: 1984 Oct 7 Ends: 1984 Dec 6 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/908 Security (Information provided to Sunday Times by a former Security Service officer) Begins: 1982 Jan 24 Ends: 1982 Jan 25 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/1189 Defence (Correspondence from Professor R.V. Jones) Begins: 1982 Jun 14 Ends: 1984 Sep 5 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/911 Security (Provisional IRA: acquisition of weapons) Begins: 1982 Aug 26 Ends: 1982 Sep 7 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/1129 Security (Publication of book containing accounts of National Security Agency) Begins: 1982 Mar 14 Ends: 1983 May 5 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown

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