no ignition lights, no crank /no go!

i have a 306 srdt 1.9 (1.9 turbo diesel) sedan. I turn the key and there are no ignition lights come on, and further turning it doesnít make it crank over or
anything. Canít even hear a click on the starter motor solenoid. The battery is fine, as we tested it with a multimeter and tried a different battery. no in car fueses have blown neither the oneís under the bonnet.
my friend came over and took the steering column casing off and used a peice of wire and managed to apparantly hot wire the car. it worked , ignition lights came on and then used the key to start it. he then thought it would be the ignition barrel at fault. so off my other 306 we swapped it over and did not fix it. he then saw that a previous owner had run a wire from the starter motor solenoid to the ignition and somehow drawn power from near the heater. he thought they had done this bodge to bypas a problem and that he now thought their bodge has stopped working. he ripped their bodge off and now intends to find the initial problem. i was just wondering if anyone had any suggestions or they have had a similar problem? ps the earth on the car seems fine. until he looks further he thought that it looked like the red and white wire (brown connector block) in the steering column leads into the car into some kind of fault, but was unsure where it went. he may be wrong. any electricial masters out there?
PS i do remember before this happened, the thermostat guage went loopy (just kept going from side to side) - coolant was fine - maybe a sign of something electrical failing?
i appreciate any comments
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