The plots to kill prime ministers

After a terror plot to assassinate Theresa May was foiled, which other prime ministers have been targeted?

:: Spencer Perceval is the only British prime minister to have been assassinated. He was shot at around 5.15pm on 11 May 1812 in the lobby of the House of Commons. His killer was John Bellingham, a failed businessman who was angry at the government’s response to his previous imprisonment in Russia. He hid a pistol in a secret pocket of his coat and, after shooting Perceval in the heart, calmly gave himself up. Bellingham was hanged in public later the same month following a trial.

Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was assassinated in 1812

Image: Spencer Perceval is the only prime minister to have been assassinated

:: Herbert Asquith was feared to be the target of militant suffragettes after two women were spotted practising at a shooting range in September 1909. An informant warned Scotland Yard the plotters were among those known to picket the House of Commons, although they were never traced. The government was unwilling to publicise the threat against the prime minister, with the plot only emerging in 2006 within files released by the National Archives.

Herbert Asquith

Image: Herbert Asquith was thought to be under threat from militant suffragettes

:: David Lloyd George was subject to a number of assassination plots during his spell as prime minister. In 1917, suffragette Alice Wheeldon, her daughter Winnie, and son-in-law Alfred were imprisoned for attempting to poison Lloyd George. However, in recent years, their ancestors have begun a campaign to clear their names, claiming the family were set-up by undercover government agents. In 1923, Lloyd George was believed to have been targeted by a group of “fanatical Turks”, who plotted to kill the British prime minister at a conference in Germany. A secret police report revealing the claims was released in 2000.

David Lloyd George

Image: David Lloyd George was subject to a number of assassination plots

:: Winston Churchill, as Britain’s war-time leader, was naturally a target for the Nazis during the Second World War. The most eye-catching plot was a plan to kill the prime minister with a bar of exploding chocolate. The 1943 scheme, in which bombmakers were to coat explosive devices with a thin layer of dark chocolate, was uncovered in historic papers nearly 70 years later. Also that year, the Nazis planned to simultaneously kill Russian leader Joseph Stalin, US President Franklin Roosevelt and Churchill during the Allies leaders conference in Tehran. Dubbed Operation Long Jump, the plot was to be led by Adolf Hitler’s SS but was foiled by Russian spies.

Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill

Image: Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were targeted by the Nazis

:: Alec Douglas-Home didn’t face a threat to his life during his 12 months as prime minister, but was subject to an attempted kidnapping by a group of left-wing students. While staying at a country house in Scotland, the Tory leader was confronted by the students at the door, who informed him they were going to take him away. But, playing for time, Douglas-Home asked to pack a few things and then invited the group into the house. After being given beer, the students abandoned their kidnap plot.

Alec Douglas-Home

Image: Alec Douglas-Home was subject to a kidnap plot

:: Margaret Thatcher narrowly escaped injury when a bomb tore apart the Brighton Grand Hotel where members of the government were staying during the 1984 Conservative Party conference. Five people, including Tory MP Sir Anthony Berry, were killed and 31 injured in the IRA bombing in the early hours of the morning. Thatcher began the next session of the conference the following day, as scheduled. Bomber Patrick Magee was given eight life sentences at the Old Bailey in 1986. He was released in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The IRA targeted a Brighton hotel where Margaret Thatcher was staying

Image: The IRA targeted a Brighton hotel where Margaret Thatcher was staying

:: John Major was chairing a meeting of his cabinet in 1991 when three IRA mortar rounds were fired from an abandoned van towards Downing Street, with one exploding in Number 10’s garden. However, the blast did not shatter the bomb-proof glass of the Cabinet Room’s windows and there was no structural damage to the building despite a scorching. Mr Major later told the House of Commons it was a “deliberate attempt” to kill his top ministers, who had continued their meeting in an adjoining building.

More from David Cameron

Smoke billows from a burning van following the 1991 mortar attack on Downing Street

Image: Smoke billows from a burning van following the 1991 mortar attack on Downing Street

:: David Cameron was forced to cancel a 2010 visit to meet British troops in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, amid fears the Taliban were plotting an attack. Mobile phone calls referring to a possible rocket attack on a helicopter were intercepted by the British military, prompting a diversion for the aircraft carrying the prime minister. The Taliban later boasted of knowing details of Mr Cameron’s trip to the country and insisted he was “lucky” to escape unhurt.

David Cameron

Image: David Cameron was targeted by the Taliban in 2010