Government feared suffragette plot to kill Asquith

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In September 1909, two women seen honing their skills at a shooting range caused panic in the British government and fears of a plot to assassinate the prime minister, according to documents released today.

The government and police records, released by the National Archives in Kew, reveal that an informant had warned that the women were members of the suffragette movement - the "half-insane women" then picketing the House of Commons to demand votes for women - and that one of the two was planning to shoot Herbert Asquith, who was known for his implacable opposition to women's suffrage.

Scotland Yard dispatched an inspector to interview the source, and ministers debated a topic not unfamiliar to today's government: how far it was possible, prudent or politically acceptable to get rid of the Westminster pickets.

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