Robert Maxwell's dodgy deal

Cabinet Office documents supplied to the Sunday Times under FOI have revealed that the "media baron and fraudster" Robert Maxwell tried to get Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative government to support him in a barter deal with the Soviet Union which was worth up to $20 billion (£11.2 billion).

Maxwell claimed to be a confidant of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet president, and to be advising him on a planned exchange in which the Russians would provide passenger jets, chemicals and coal in return for credit to buy food and supplies.

In a note to Thatcher, her private secretary Charles Powell, now Lord Powell, asked if he should send someone to see Maxwell to obtain details of the scheme or invite him to Downing Street. A written reply on the same note in Thatcher’s handwriting says: “The ‘Prince’ wants to be seen here! MT.”

Margaret Thatcher decided not to support the deal.

Maxwell tried to get Thatcher to bail him out (Sunday Times, 29 January 2006)