Documents released by the British government under the thirty years rule showed that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher gave shoot to kill orders after protesters breeched a nuclear base.
In October 1988 three anti-nuclear protesters managed to board a Polaris submarine, gaining access to the control room. According to the papers, the horrified prime minister gave orders for intruders to be shot onsite.
The security breech resulted in ten senior figures at the nuclear base in Faslane court-martialled.
Advisers warned Thatcher that a similar incident could occur involving terrorists. As a result 42 new security procedures were put in place.
One Ministry of Defence memo stated: “The rules of engagement governing the armed guards on the Polaris jetties have been amended, with the agreement of the law officers, to make it clear that they may, as a last resort, open fire to prevent a perceived threat of sabotage.”
The intruders breached the barbed wire and evaded security personnel to reach the base.
Thatcher wrote in the margins of the report, “I am utterly horrified. Examples of slackness in sensitive matters keep coming to light. Must have an urgent report. We could all have been put in grave danger.”
The disciplinary action did not enter public domain until today. It was felt at the time that it would provide opportunities for protestors and terrorists and be damaging to security. Despite the remedial actions protestors were able to repeat the process seven years later.
In 1996, Mhairi Logan and Claire Davies swam across Gairloch at night wearing black wet suits. Although the pair were arrested and handed over to military police, they managed to reach the control room of HMS Sceptre and make a phone call.
So far the papers which were released recently have been very revealing and include her horror at a united Germany, and a plan to destroy drug crops using pesticides.