Brighton bomb: 25 years on

By staff

It has been 25 years since the IRA bomb planted at the Conservative party conference in Brighton sent British politics into crisis.

Tomorrow, Pat McGee, the man responsible for blowing up the Grand Hotel, on the seafront, and killing five people, will walk into parliament with Jo Berry, the daughter of one of his victims, for an event organised by The Forgiveness Project and the all-party parliamentary group on conflict issues.

But tonight, all eyes will be on a service at St Paul’s Parish Church in West Street, Brighton, for an event being attended by Lord Tebbit and his wife, who was paralysed in the explosion.

Following the service, he will unveil a memorial plaque inside the Grand Hotel.

Both Lord Tebbit and Lord Wakeham, whose wife was killed in the attack, are likely to be upset by Mr McGee’s presence in parliament.

The 100lb bomb failed to hit prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who was still putting the finishing touches on her speech, or her husband Dennis.

The bomb went off at 02:54 BST, ripping the front of the hotel off the building across two floors.

Mrs Thatcher nevertheless insisted the conference opened on time the next day and rewrote her speech.

“This attack has failed,” she told delegates.

“All attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.”

The attack marked the end of easy-going conferences, which have now been replaced by heavily fortified security compounds where delegates are passed through airport-style security before accessing the conference area.