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Sir Bernard Ingham (born 21 June 1932) is a journalist and former civil servant who is best known as Margaret Thatcher's Chief Press Secretary whilst she was Prime Minister. Today Ingham lectures in Public Relations at Middlesex University in London . He is also secretary to "Supporters of Nuclear Energy" (SONE), a group of individuals who seek to promote nuclear power and he holds the position of Vice President of 'Country Guardian', an anti wind-energy campaign group .

Ingham is also a regular panelist on BBC current affairs programme Dateline London.

Background

Ingham was educated at Hebden Bridgemarker Grammar School and joined the Hebden Bridge Times newspaper at the age of 16. He went on to work for the Yorkshire Evening Post, the Yorkshire Post, latterly as Northern Industrial Correspondent, and The Guardian. Whilst a reporter at the Yorkshire Post, Ingham was an active member of the National Union of Journalists and was vice chairman of the Leeds branch.

Ingham's father was a Labour Party councillor and he was himself a member of the Labour Party until he joined the Civil Service.

Ingham contested the safe Conservative Moortownmarker ward of Leedsmarker City Council in the 1965 council elections.

Press secretary to Margaret Thatcher

Ingham spent 11 years as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Chief Press Secretary in No. 10 Downing Street. In 1989-90 he was also Head of the Government Information Service. In the course of his Civil Service career he was also press secretary to Barbara Castle, Robert Carr, Maurice Macmillan, Lord Carrington, Eric Varley and Tony Benn.

Although a career civil servant, Ingham gained a reputation for being a highly effective propagandist for the Thatcherite cause. The phrase spin doctor did not enter common parlance until after his retirement, but he was nevertheless a gifted exponent in what came to be known as the "black arts" of spin.

In those days, Downing Street briefings were "off the record," meaning that information given out by Ingham could be attributed only to "senior government sources." Occasionally he used this deniability to brief against the Government's own ministers, such as when he described the Leader of the House of Commons John Biffen as a "semi-detached" member of the Government . Biffen was dropped at the next reshuffle.

Ingham managed to stay out of the damaging Westland helicopter crisis in 1986, correctly realising that any involvement by him would directly link Mrs Thatcher to the affair.

He was knighted on Thatcher's resignation - and retirement - in 1990. His successor as Press Secretary was Sir Gus O'Donnell, who went on to become Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service in 2005.

Private life

In 1999, Ingham was arrested and questioned by police after it was alleged he kicked and damaged a car belonging to a neighbour, Barry Cripps, in a dispute over a right-of-way. He later voluntarily paid money to cover the repairs to the vehicle, and agreed to be bound over to keep the peace by local magistrates.

In 1997 he was fooled by Chris Moris into speaking out against a fictional drug "Cake".

Television script

Ingham helped Thatcher in the writing of the Yes Minister sketch which she performed in public with Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne.

Ancestry

Sir Bernard Ingham's ancestry, revealing him to be of both Yorkshire and Lancashire stock, with one ancestral line from Staffordshire, was published in an article in the September 2006 issue of the UK genealogy magazine, Practical Family History . This article was researched and written by Roy Stockdill, an old friend of Sir Bernard's when they both worked as young journalists in Halifax in the 1950s. It showed that the Inghams originally came from Manchester and Salford, but Sir Bernard's grandfather Henry Ingham moved to the Calder Valley and Hebden Bridge. On his maternal side, Sir Bernard's ancestors were mostly from Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall, whilst his maternal grandmother Jane Vernon descended from Staffordshire coal miners.

Selected works

  • Kill the Messenger...Again (2003)


References

  • Routledge, Paul, Bumper Book of British Lefties, 2003, Politicos (ISBN 1-84275-064-X) - provides further information on Ingham's early involvement with the Labour Party


  • Practical Family History magazine, September 2006, No 105, pages 6–10; A Foot In Both Red & White Rose Camps; the family tree of Sir Bernard Ingham by Roy Stockdill



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