Former British PM Thatcher in hospital for checks: officials

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Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was admitted to hospital Tuesday for "precautionary tests" after failing to recover from an infection, a government spokesman said.

She was taken to Cromwell Hospital in west London for treatment and Prime Minister David Cameron wished her a "speedy recovery".

The BBC cited a spokesman for Thatcher as saying her condition was not serious and she was expected to be home in a few days.

Thatcher, Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990, was forced to withdraw from a reception at 10 Downing Street last week to mark her 85th birthday after coming down with flu. Her admission to hospital is linked to this bout of illness.

"We understand from Lady Thatcher's office that she has been admitted to hospital for precautionary tests following her recent bout of flu," said a spokesman from Cameron's Downing Street office.

"The prime minister wishes Lady Thatcher a speedy recovery."

Thatcher was given a life peerage under the British honours system which entitles her to sit in the upper house of parliament and gives her the title "lady".

Cameron -- also from the Conservative party -- hosted the gathering of around 150 friends and former colleagues on Thursday to mark Thatcher's birthday, which had been on the previous day.

She was taken ill with flu on the day of the celebration so was forced to withdraw -- but insisted the event go ahead without her, according to a government spokesman.

In a light-hearted message of apology to guests who turned up at the celebration, she harked back to her most famous speech and told them: "The Lady is not for returning."

Doctors banned her from public speaking in 2002 following a series of small strokes which aides said left her sometimes confused and with a failing memory.

Her daughter Carol wrote in her 2008 memoir that on her worst days Thatcher struggled to finish sentences and would even forget that her loyal husband, businessman Denis, had died in 2003.

Dubbed the "Iron Lady", she was the 20th century's longest-serving occupant of 10 Downing Street.

Her premiership polarised opinion: right-wingers hailed her for hauling the country out of the doldrums of the 1970s; the left loathed her for dismantling traditional industry and said her reforms had unpicked the fabric of society.

© 2010 AFP

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