Only one British Prime Minister has ever been assassinated. Spencer Perceval was shot in the Palace of Westminster in 1812 after serving just three years in office. During that time he presided over an unstable government, a financial crisis and a series of setbacks in the Napoleonic wars. But it was the bitterness of a bankrupt businessman that lay behind his murder.

John Bellingham, an export trader, had become obsessed with gaining compensation for his six-year imprisonment in a Russian jail. It is thought he had personally approached the Prime Minister for help.

After a final failed visit to the foreign office, he bought two pistols and hid them in a secret compartment in his coat.

On May 11 he travelled to Parliament and waited until Spencer Perceval walked from the House of Commons chamber into the lobby. Bellingham then took out a gun and shot him in the chest.