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Margaret Thatcher approved of a failed attempt to use an army of mercenaries to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea, according to the unpublished memoirs of the chief protagonist of the bid — former SAS officer Simon Mann.

The former prime minister, whose son, Mark, was convicted in a South African court of involvement in the attempted 2004 coup, allegedly told Mann at a meeting at her Belgravia home, “I’m sure it’s going to work.”

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