Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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1982 Feb 28 Su
Margaret Thatcher

Remarks on Tanzanian hijack (successful resolution)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Remarks
Venue: ?Outside No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: MT made her remarks when she returned from her engagement at the Royal College of Music. They were broadcast by the BBC at 2200.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 322
Themes: Law & order, Terrorism

Interviewer

How do you feel about the Stansted operation tonight?

Prime Minister

Absolutely delighted. Many many congratulations to the police who handled it with their usual skill.

Interviewer

Are there are lessons to be learnt?

Prime Minister

I think there are a tremendous number of lessons. First it was handled right by the police in the field and then by Willie Whitelaw at the centre. We made it absolutely clear at the beginning. This plane has been hijacked. It will not leave. We are not going to have this kind of thing. We signed an agreement with other countries that if people hijack aircraft then either they are tried in the country they land or they are returned to the place where it was hijacked. No point in signing agreements unless you keep them. We will not have hijacking. We have to end it. Everyone knows here, if there is a hijack and they come here they will not leave and then the whole operation became—that decision having been taken—how can we get out of it without violence, without bloodshed. And there is no-one like our police for doing superb handling.

Interviewer

What sort of contingency plans did the Government draw up?

Prime Minister

Oh, my goodness me, just suffice it to know the operation was successful.

Interviewer

Were the hijackers ever intimated to them that perhaps the flight plane might be stormed?

PM

Look. We handled it superbly. What general says exactly how it was handled, what decisions were taken? The message is that everyone who hijacks or wants to hijack—if they bring an aircraft here they will not leave. [end p1] If every other country did that we could stop hijacking. Just congratulate the police, an enormous plus. All told, all round, don't spoil it, in case there might be another one.