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What Fred Did

Owen Bennett-Jones: Go-Betweens in Northern Ireland, 22 January 2015

... There are two points to make about this meeting. The then secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Patrick Mayhew, insists that he didn’t know about it. But that doesn’t mean Fred was flying solo. The Duddy archive includes a fax sent by Fred to Duddy in August 1993 which strongly suggests Fred had some level of clearance to meet the IRA in spite of ...

The Party and the Army

Ronan Bennett, 21 March 1996

... necessary to do any of the thousand special things that have been done there. John Major and Sir Patrick Mayhew do not like it, but one of the defining characteristics of Irish Nationalism – and Unionism, for that matter – is that it has always had a tradition of physical force. The survival of that tradition is lamentable and anachronistic, but ...

An Escalation of Reasonableness

Conor Gearty: Northern Ireland, 6 September 2001

To Raise up a New Northern Ireland: Articles and Speeches 1998-2000 
by David Trimble.
Belfast Press, 166 pp., £5.99, July 2001, 0 9539287 1 3
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... which had not fully backed the peace process. The Unionists’ chance came in March 1995, when Sir Patrick Mayhew, Peter Brooke’s successor, visited Washington. Tall and well-spoken, Mayhew looked like a man from another era, born to rule India not a few damp counties. Without warning, and despite the fact that the ...


Tom Paulin: Trimble’s virtues, 7 October 2004

... government’s suspicion that none of the Unionists could be trusted. Even now, Godson says, Patrick Mayhew, Northern Ireland secretary at the time, describes Trimble’s performance at Drumcree as ‘undoubtedly triumphalist’. He aroused great hostility in nationalist Ireland and among what Godson calls ‘mainland progressive opinion’, which ...


Ronan Bennett: The IRA Ceasefire, 22 September 1994

... given to the question of whether ‘complete’ meant ‘permanent’. On The World at One, Sir Patrick Mayhew was invited to respond to a (dubbed) interview with Martin McGuinness in which Sinn Fein’s vice-president had said the ceasefire would endure ‘in all circumstances’. Mayhew said he thought what Martin ...


Colin Wallace, 8 October 1992

The Red Hand: Protestant Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland 
by Steve Bruce.
Oxford, 326 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 19 215961 5
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... policy in Northern Ireland. In January 1988, the then Attorney-General, Sir Patrick Mayhew, told the Commons that, given certain ‘considerations of national security’, no charges would be brought against eight named RUC officers for various offences including conspiracy to murder, nor against certain MI5 officers involved in ...

With a Titter of Wit

Colin Kidd: Wholly Ulsterised, 6 May 2021

Deniable Contact: Back-Channel Negotiation in Northern Ireland 
by Niall Ó Dochartaigh.
Oxford, 306 pp., £75, March, 978 0 19 289476 2
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... British and Irish governments. The peace process was on the verge of unravelling. An embarrassed Patrick Mayhew, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, announced that the British were only negotiating with the IRA because of McGuinness’s ‘conflict is over’ message. An indignant McGuinness denied responsibility; nobody in Ireland ‘with a ...

Westland Ho

Paul Foot, 6 February 1986

... notice). The following day, part of the text of a pompous letter from the Solicitor-General, Sir Patrick Mayhew, to Heseltine informing him that he had made a few trivial mistakes in a letter he had written on the Westlands business to Lloyds Bank, was mysteriously leaked to the newspapers. Two days later, on 8 January, Sir Raymond Lygo, chief executive ...

What did they do in the war?

Angus Calder, 20 June 1985

Firing Line 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 436 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 224 02043 9
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The Right of the Line: The Royal Air Force in the European War 1939-1945 
by John Terraine.
Hodder, 841 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 340 26644 9
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The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book 
by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt.
Viking, 804 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 670 80137 2
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’45: The Final Drive from the Rhine to the Baltic 
by Charles Whiting.
Century, 192 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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In the Ruins of the Reich 
by Douglas Botting.
Allen and Unwin, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780049430365
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1945: The World We Fought For 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 241 11531 0
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VE Day: Victory in Europe 1945 
by Robin Cross.
Sidgwick, 223 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 283 99220 4
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One Family’s War 
edited by Patrick Mayhew.
Hutchinson, 237 pp., £10.95, May 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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Poems of the Second World War: The Oasis Selection 
edited by Victor Selwyn.
Dent, 386 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 460 10432 2
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My Life 
by Bert Hardy.
Gordon Fraser, 192 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 86092 083 6
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Victory in Europe: D Day to VE Day 
by Max Hastings and George Stevens.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £10.95, April 1985, 0 297 78650 4
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... Reports from Europe were bound to dismay people with sensitivity to suffering. Young Christopher Mayhew, scion of a country-house family, former President of the Oxford Union, but soon to be a Labour MP, had reached Germany as a soldier in March. His father, Sir Basil, vice-chairman of Colman of Norwich, didn’t like what his son wrote home about friendly ...


Patrick Parrinder, 20 August 1992

Past Tenses: Essays on Writing, Autobiography and History 
by Carolyn Steedman.
Rivers Oram, 224 pp., £22, June 1992, 1 85489 021 2
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... to an academic conference – is that of the eight-year-old watercress-seller interviewed by Henry Mayhew in London Labour and the London Poor. The watercress girl was a ‘good and helpful child, who eased her mother’s life’, much as the young Steedman tried to be. At roughly the same age as Mayhew’s ...

Our Flexible Friends

Conor Gearty, 18 April 1996

Scott Inquiry Report 
by Richard Scott.
HMSO, 2386 pp., £45, February 1996, 0 10 262796 7
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... the end of November 1993, the Prime Minister and his Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Sir Patrick Mayhew, had been utterly convincing in their determination never to deal with terrorists of any sort. Then it emerged that the Government had all along been engaged in dialogue not with the mere ‘pseudo-terrorist’ Gerry Adams but with the IRA ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... evictor (with some help from the tax-payer) of the tenant with too colourful a professional life; Patrick Nicholls, suspected drunk driver; Nicholas Ridley, too loquacious an advocate of anti-German feeling; and Mrs Edwina Currie (‘most of the egg production in this country is, sadly, now infected with salmonella’). Then there is the long line of ...

On (Not) Saying What You Mean

Colm Tóibín, 30 November 1995

... average. The ‘not’ factor explained things like de Valera’s extraordinary speech on St Patrick’s Day in 1943. He said that Ireland would be a land whose countryside would be bright with cosy homesteads, whose fields and villages would be joyous with the sounds of industry, with the rompings of sturdy children, the contests of athletic youths and ...

Marching Orders

Ronan Bennett: The new future of Northern Ireland, 30 July 1998

... Adams were to see off his opponents, he would have to produce results. In the early Nineties, Sir Patrick Mayhew was able to taunt Sinn Fein as being ‘a mere ten per cent party’ and not worth talking to; most commentators agreed, and the consensus was that while the Party had a solid core of loyal supporters it was unlikely to expand. Sinn Fein was ...

Bravo l’artiste

John Lanchester: What is Murdoch after?, 5 February 2004

The Murdoch Archipelago 
by Bruce Page.
Simon and Schuster, 580 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 7432 3936 9
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Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Media Wizard 
by Neil Chenoweth.
Crown Business, 416 pp., $27.50, December 2002, 0 609 61038 4
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Autumn of the Moguls: My Misadventures with the Titans, Poseurs and Money Guys who Mastered and Messed up Big Media 
by Michael Wolff.
Flamingo, 381 pp., £18.99, January 2004, 0 00 717881 6
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... in use.’ When the Cabinet was feuding over Westland, the Sun naturally backed her, and so when Patrick Mayhew, the Solicitor-General, told Michael Heseltine that his account of the rival bids might contain ‘material inaccuracies’, this confidential legal advice was immediately leaked to the Sun, whose sensitive and nuanced front-page account of ...

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