Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Monday, 14 April 2008 12:53 UK

1964 prime minister kidnap foiled

Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Former Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home died in 1995

Former Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home foiled a kidnap plot by Aberdeen students, it has emerged.

The incident in 1964 was found in the diaries of former Lord Chancellor Lord Hailsham studied by the University of Cambridge's Churchill Archives Centre.

After failing to stop his car with a staged road crash, the Aberdeen group reached him in a local country house.

However, when he let them in at Potterton House, he gave them beer - and they gave up their kidnap attempt.

'Fiddles around'

Chris Collins of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, who helped with the research, told the BBC's Today programme of the coded diary entry: "They knock on the door, and the prime minister opens in person. And they say 'Hi prime minister, we're going to take you away, thank you'.

'And what does he do? He's a considerable person, he's very charming but quite tough, I think he sizes it up immediately. He realises all he can do is play for time. And he says, 'Can I have 10 minutes to pack some stuff?'

'He goes upstairs and fiddles around, and he comes down and plays along with them, lets them take a photo of him, and he invites them into the kitchen and gives them some beer. And basically the students then decide they're going to give it up."

Sir Alec Douglas-Home was prime minister for a year from October 1963, after Harold Macmillan suddenly resigned.

He died in 1995 in Berwickshire.




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