Mark Thatcher: Wikis

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The Honourable
Sir Mark Thatcher, Bt


Incumbent
Assumed office 
26 June 2003
Preceded by Denis Thatcher

Born 15 August 1953 (1953-08-15) (aged 56)
Spouse(s) Diane Burgdorf (m. 1987–2005) «start: (1987)–end+1: (2006)»"Marriage: Diane Burgdorf to Mark Thatcher" Location: (linkback:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Thatcher)
The Hon. Sarah, Lady Thatcher (m. 2008–present) «start: (2008)»"Marriage: The Hon. Sarah, Lady Thatcher to Mark Thatcher" Location: (linkback:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Thatcher)
Relations Sir Denis Thatcher Bt (father)
Margaret Thatcher (mother)
Carol Thatcher (sister)
Children Michael Thatcher (b.1989)
Amanda Thatcher (b.1993)

Sir Mark Thatcher, 2nd Baronet (born 15 August 1953) is the only son of Sir Denis Thatcher and Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister, and twin brother of Carol Thatcher. In addition to his prominence as the only son of one of the world's best known politicians, Thatcher has attracted headlines for his early youthful playboy lifestyle, involvement in motorsports, business associations, and for the role he played in an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea, for which role he was fined three million rand (approximately $500,000) and received a four-year suspended jail sentence.

Contents

Youth

Thatcher was educated at Harrow School from January 1967 to 1971, where his nickname was "Thickie Mork".[1] He became an articled clerk at Touche Ross, a City of London firm of Chartered Accountants, but did not succeed in becoming an accountant.

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Marriage and children

Thatcher married Diane Burgdorf, the conservative Lutheran daughter of the millionaire Texas car dealer Theodore C. Burgdorf, on 14 February 1987 in Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, London, England. They reportedly met at a party for D Magazine, a Dallas lifestyle publication, while Thatcher was living in Texas as a representative of the luxury automotive company Lotus Cars. The family moved to South Africa possibly to avoid bad publicity because of allegations against Mark Thatcher of racketeering that resulted in a £4 million civil action in 1994. They have a son and a daughter:

  • Michael Thatcher (b. 28 February 1989) [2]
  • Amanda Margaret Thatcher (b. 1993)

On 19 September 2005, the couple announced their intention to divorce. Burgdorf married American statistician and sports card millionaire James Beckett in 2008.[3]

In March 2008, Tim Walker revealed in the Sunday Telegraph's Mandrake diary that Thatcher had secretly married Lady Francis Russell (Sarah Jane Russell). She is the ex-wife of Lord Francis Russell (a younger son of John Russell, 13th Duke of Bedford), the daughter of Terence J. Clemence and a sister of The Viscountess Rothermere.[4][5] During his marriage to Burgdorf, Thatcher had had an affair with Russell, about which Burgdorf had confronted her.[6]

Motorsport career

In 1982, while competing in the Paris-Dakar rally, Thatcher, his French co-driver, Anne-Charlotte Verney, and their mechanic went missing in the Sahara Desert for six days. On 9 January 1982, the trio became separated from a convoy of vehicles after they stopped to make repairs to a faulty steering arm. They were declared missing on 12 January; after a large-scale search, a C-130 Hercules search plane from the Algerian military spotted the white Peugeot 504 some 50 km off course on 14 January. Thatcher, Verney and the mechanic were all unharmed.

Thatcher also competed, with little success but less notoriety, on the circuits in Sports 2000, Thundersports and eventually graduated to the European Touring Car Championship with semi-works BMWs.

Business life

Thatcher was later employed in the jewellery business and was involved in a succession of unsuccessful career attempts in the Far East.[citation needed] His business dealings at the time that his mother was the Prime Minister were the subject of much press attention.

In 1998 South African authorities investigated his firm for running loan shark operations. A company owned by Sir Mark offered unofficial small loans to hundreds of police officers, military personnel and civil servants. When they defaulted on the loans they were pursued by debt collectors and charged 20% interest rates, according to the Star of Johannesburg.[7]

Other widely reported Thatcher embarrassments include allegations of U.S. tax evasion (a criminal case was eventually dropped) and a racketeering case in Texas which was settled out of court. According to The Daily Telegraph of 26 August 2004, "In 1998, he was at the centre of a scandal after he lent huge sums of money at exorbitant interest rates to more than 900 local police officers and civil servants in Cape Town. He admitted lending the cash but insisted that he had done nothing wrong. He is also thought to have profited from contracts to supply aviation fuel in various African countries."

The Sunday Times, quoting "city sources", said he had amassed a personal fortune of £60m, the majority of which is in offshore accounts, attributed to shrewd investments and a series of "astute deals in Africa".[7]

Equatorial Guinea coup

On 25 August 2004, Thatcher was arrested at home in Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa. He was charged later that day with contravening two sections of South Africa's "Foreign Military Assistance Act", which bans South African residents from taking part in any foreign military activity. The charges related to "possible funding and logistical assistance in relation to [an] attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea" organized by Thatcher's friend, Simon Mann. He was released on bail of 2 million rand and spent a period of time under house arrest, but was bailed to London to live with his widowed mother while his wife and children moved to the family's home in Dallas, Texas.

On 24 November 2004, the Cape Town High Court upheld a subpoena from the South African Justice Ministry that required him to answer under oath questions from Equatorial Guinean authorities regarding the alleged coup attempt. He was due to face questioning on 25 November 2004, regarding offences under the South African Foreign Military Assistance Act; however, these proceedings were later postponed until 8 April 2005. Ultimately, following a process of plea bargaining, Thatcher pleaded guilty to negligence in investing in an aircraft "without taking proper investigations into what it would be used for". Thatcher admitted in court that he had paid the money, but said he was under the impression it was going to be invested in an air ambulance service to help the impoverished of Africa. This explanation was not believed by the judge and he was fined three million rand (approximately $500,000) and received a four-year suspended jail sentence.

On 3 April 2005, Sir Mark, then living with his mother in Belgravia, London announced that his family home would be in Europe after he was refused a residence visa to live in the United States as a result of his guilty plea in the Equatorial Guinea affair. His children, he stated, will be educated in the United States.[citation needed]

Under the headline "Mark Thatcher — undesirable in Monaco?" French newspaper Le Figaro reported on 20 December 2005:

"Margaret Thatcher's son, the former British prime minister's nefarious offspring, will not be installing himself in the principality of Monaco as he hoped." A spokesman for Prince Albert II of Monaco told Le Figaro that Sir Mark's residency card would not be renewed. "He has a temporary residency card valid for one year. It will not be renewed when it expires in the second half of 2006 and he will have to leave." The spokesman, Armand Deus, added: "I cannot say why it will not be renewed. But the Prince made things very clear during his investiture in July when he said that ethics will be at the centre of life in Monaco."

In Equatorial Guinea in June 2008, Simon Mann claimed during his trial testimony that Thatcher, now resident in Spain, "was not just an investor, he came completely on board and became a part of the management team" of the coup plot.[8]

Titles

Sir Mark Thatcher is entitled the usage of the pre-nominal style 'The Honourable' following the elevation of his mother, Margaret Thatcher, to the peerage as a baroness in 1992; he shares this courtesy with his twin sister, The Hon. Carol Thatcher. He inherited the Thatcher baronetcy on the death of his father, Sir Denis, in 2003. The baronetcy, created in 1991 for Sir Denis, was the first (and so far only) baronetcy created since 1964. It was not the first honour to be granted to a spouse of a British Prime Minister: The wives of both Benjamin Disraeli and Sir Winston Churchill were made peeresses in their own right, although the former excited controversy at the time.

Timeline of titles

  • Mark Thatcher Esq. (15 August 1953–26 June 1992)
  • The Hon. Mark Thatcher (26 June 1992 –26 June 2003)
  • The Hon. Sir Mark Thatcher, 2nd Bt (26 June 2003–)

See also

References

External links

Profiles

Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Denis Thatcher 1st Bt
Baronet
(of Scotney)
2003 – present
Incumbent

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