David Thorp

Maggie was right

In a famous interview with a bossy school teacher Margaret Thatcher told everyone they would have to wait 30 years for evidence about the sinking of the General Belgrano to come out.

Just as she said 30 years later the evidence is starting to come out.

For decades debate and recrimination has raged over where the ship was heading when it was torpedoed by a Royal Navy submarine.

Britain received international criticism after the sinking after the Argentine Junta announced that the warship had been returning to its home port and was outside the 200 mile exclusion zone imposed by Whitehall.

But Major David Thorp, who spent 34 years working as a signals expert in military intelligence, has disclosed for the first time that he was asked to carry out a trawl of all the intelligence on the sinking at the direct request of Margaret Thatcher a few months after the end of the war.

He was ordered to compile a report for the Prime Minister called ?The Sinking of the Belgrano? that has never been published.

From his own signals intercepts and those from other Government agencies, he proved that the Argentine cruiser was heading into the exclusion zone.

Thatcher didn’t say anything and tied it all up in the Official Secret Act because she clearly didn’t want the Argies to know that Britain could read and decipher their signals.

The report states that in late April 1982, they intercepted a message sent from naval headquarters ordering the Belgrano and its escorts to a grid reference within the exclusion zone and not back to base as the Argentines later claimed.

The Belgrano was sunk by two torpedoes fired by the hunter-killer submarine Conqueror on May 2 with the loss of 323 lives a number of miles outside the exclusion zone.

?For some reason they decided on a rendezvous point still within the exclusion zone,? Major Thorp said. ?Whether they were trying to raise a thumb at us I don?t know. At the time I thought it was strange thinking why didn?t they go straight into port??

Maggie Thatcher was right to order the sinking of the Belgrano. Now that 30 years has elapsed the evidence can begin to come out.