Thatchergate was the colloquial title of a hoax perpetrated by members of the anarcho-punk band Crass during the aftermath of the 1982 Falklands War. Using excerpts from speeches by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, a recording was spliced together which purported to be a telephone conversation between the two leaders. During the course of the tape Reagan seems to state his intention to use Europe as a battle front to show the Soviet leaders the US's resolve in a nuclear conflict, whilst Thatcher appears to imply that HMS Sheffield was deliberately sacrificed in order to escalate the Falklands war.

When the recording first surfaced into the public domain in 1983, it was initially considered by the US State Department to have been propaganda produced by the Soviet KGB, a story reported by both the San Francisco Chronicle[1] and The Sunday Times.[2] However, coverage of the tape by the UK broadsheet The Observer in January 1984 identified the true source as Crass.[3] Crass have stated that great care was taken to ensure their anonymity, and that to this day it is a mystery as to how Observer journalists were able to trace the hoax back to them.[4]

In January 2014 official government documents were released to the National Archives revealing the concerns of the UK's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). A Foreign Office adviser's letter to Thatcher said: "This looks like a rather clumsy operation. We have no evidence so far about who is responsible. ...SIS doubt whether this is a Soviet operation. It is possible that one of the Argentine intelligence services might have been behind it; or alternatively it might be the work of left-wing groups in this country."[5]

Excerpts of the recording can be heard in the Crass track "Powerless with a Guitar" on the compilation LP Devastate to Liberate (Yangki - 1985 - Yangki 1). The full recording was later released on the expanded Crassical Collection edition of the group's best of album Best Before 1984.

See also


  1. ^ "Thatchergate | Tape of Thatcher - Reagan Telephone Conversation. Made During Falklands War". San Francisco Chronicle. 30 January 1983. p. 10. Archived from the original on 30 August 2005.
  2. ^ "How the KGB fools the West's press". The Sunday Times. 8 January 1984. p. 3. Archived from the original on 30 August 2005.
  3. ^ Leigh, David; Lashmar, Paul (22 January 1984). "'Soviet' faked tape is rock group hoax". The Observer. Archived from the original on 30 August 2005.
  4. ^ ". . . IN WHICH CRASS VOLUNTARILY BLOW THEIR OWN". Southern Records. Archived from the original on 18 February 2008. We were overcome with a mixture of fear and elation, should we or should we not expose the hoax? Our indecision was resolved when a journalist from The Observer contacted us in relation to 'a certain tape'. At first we denied knowledge, but eventually decided to admit responsibility. We had been meticulously careful in the production and distribution of the tape to ensure that no one knew about our involvement. How The Observer got hold of information that led to us is a complete mystery. It acted as a substantial warning, if walls did indeed have ears, how much more was known of our activities?
  5. ^ Agence France-Presse (3 January 2014). "Phoney Margaret Thatcher Ronald Reagan Tapes Spooked British Spies". NDTV. Retrieved 9 March 2022.