Hugh John Simmonds, CBE, turned up dead in the woods, outside of his home town, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, in November 1988. $7.5 million was missing from his law firm, Simmonds and Company. The incident made international headlines: Simmonds had been Margaret Thatcher’s favorite speech writer.
However, this was not the first time Simmonds had attracted public attention. He had already made a name for himself publicly by becoming the only Prospective Conservative Parliamentary Candidate to be de-selected twice from safe Conservative seats: first, from South-West Cambridge, in 1983, when the Cambridge Hunt discovered his wife was anti-hunting; and then again in 1987, when the Association of South Warrington found out that Simmonds had an illegitimate son.
However, all this unsavory press coverage belied Simmonds’ true influence in the Conservative Party, where he was well respected by the voluntary, professional and Parliamentary wings.
Simmonds was a former Treasurer of the Conservative Party’s Wessex Area (1982-1986), and served on both the Conservative National Board of Finance and the Party’s National Union Executive Committee. Some saw him as a future Chairman of the NUEC. In addition, Simmonds was one of the founding officers of the Selsdon Group in the early Seventies.
Simmonds was an honorary legal adviser to Conservative Central Office, and was regarded by all as a potential Cabinet Minister – as long as he could avoid his propensity to self-destruct.
What was not generally known was that Simmonds was also a senior officer in MI6, and had specialized in legal money-laundering, at the London law firm of Wedlake Bell, where he had been one of its youngest partners, in the late Seventies and early Eighties.
It was this combination of skills, experience and contacts that made Simmonds the ideal candidate to perform the clandestine arms functions, requested of him by Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party in the Eighties, and which form the subject of Dead Men Don’t Eat Lunch.
It is not the intention of either Dead Men Don’t Eat Lunch, or the Conservative Campaign for Compassion, against Corruption to vindicate Hugh Simmonds. The man was no angel – he had huge flaws. That’s why he was a senior Intelligence Officer, and why he was chosen by Margaret Thatcher to do the ‘dirty work’ associated with Tory arms corruption: you don’t hire boy scouts to do the devil’s work.
Margaret Thatcher had her reasons for choosing a brilliant, but flawed, individual to perform the role of her personal arms troubleshooter, not least the fact that he would accept, and that he would then be eminently deniable. True to form, Simmonds did accept. He got into some sort of trouble. And he was duly denied. That was his choice. But, it was not the choice of his families. They didn’t get a vote.
If, as this Campaign and Dead Men Don’t Eat Lunch contend, Simmonds was, at the time of his death, acting at the personal behest of then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, then he was technically performing duties on behalf of the British Government. And his families should not have been abandoned.
Enter the Conservative Campaign for Compassion, against Corruption, the primary objective of which is to encourage the new Leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, to own up to his Party’s corrupt past, and to live up to his call for compassion, by now campaigning for justice to be done by the families of Hugh John Simmonds, CBE, and Dr. David Kelly, CMG.