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Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 06:56 GMT
Brighton bomb: Filming forgiveness
Patrick Magee and Jo Tuffnell
Patrick Magee and Jo Tuffnell first met in November 2000
BBC Two's Everyman tells the story of the daughter of a Brighton bomb victim, her painful journey towards meeting and talking with the man who killed her father.

Jo Tuffnell is the daughter of Sir Anthony Berry, former MP for Enfield Southgate and a junior minister in Margaret Thatcher's government.

On 12 October 1984 Sir Anthony was killed, along with four others, by a bomb planted in the Grand Hotel in Brighton, during the Tory party conference.

Click here to read Jo Tuffnell's story in her own words

IRA bomber Patrick Magee was convicted of murder and sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, a year after the bombing.

But Mrs Tuffnell's journey had, in a sense, already begun. She says that within days of the attack, she knew she wanted to have the strength to overcome bitterness - and that that might involve meeting the Brighton bomber.

Nonetheless, Magee's release after just 14 years - as party of the Good Friday peace agreement - was a profound shock to her.

It is part of my own healing to hear his story

Jo Tuffnell
Mrs Tuffnell, who had already been making trips to Ireland to try better to understand the conflict, decided she needed to meet Magee.

She pursued the idea of a meeting until he agreed.

On 24 November 2000 the pair met at a secret location in Dublin, for what was later described as "highly-charged three hours".

Strange meeting

The two of them then agreed to meet again - with the cameras present.

Jo Tuffnell
Jo Tuffnell wanted to overcome bitterness
The programme offers a glimpse of the personality dynamics involved in such a strange meeting.

Magee, who completed two university degrees in prison, is still a committed Republican, inclined to justify the armed struggle against the British.

But he is clearly disarmed, in quite another sense, by the generosity and openness of Jo Tuffnell.


While pointing out how Mrs Tuffnells' father was seen as "a legitimate target", he goes on: "But meeting you reminds me that the was also a human being and he was your father - and that's all lost."

Sir Anthony Berry
Sir Anthony Berry had six children
"I think it's very important to be confronted by the consequences - with your pain," he tells her.

Both of them say that they are surprised by the readiness of the other to try to find some common ground - though their lives could not have been more different.

Magee, born in Belfast in 1951, was brought up in Norwich but returned to Belfast in the early years of the Troubles.

Soon he was involved in the Provisional IRA, and later spent two year interned without trial - from where he emerged committed to armed struggle against the British.

By contrast Mrs Tuffnell was born into the heart of the British establishment. Her parents' wedding was attended by the Queen Mother, and her father was a member of the Royal household.


But if it has taken a catastrophe to bring them together, there has emerged a kind of mutual respect and fascination, and during the course of 2001 the pair met several more times with the cameras present.

The meetings have had repercussions in their separate lives, too.

Patrick Magee
Magee was released after 14 years in jail
Magee has become actively involved in Irish conciliation groups and with facilitating encounters between former "combatants" and victims.

Mrs Tuffnell became increasingly worried that her search for reconciliation would be seen as disrespectful or disloyal by other Brighton victims

But when she meets MP Harvey Thomas - pulled alive from the rubble of the Grand Hotel - he reassures her that she was not letting her father down: "He'd be extraordinarily proud of you," he says.

Facing The Enemy does not pretend that there is a true meeting of minds to be had between the two.

But it does show that Magee and Mrs Tuffnell are searching for something which, though it might be unobtainable, is nonetheless worth striving for.

It is the shock of another terrorist attack - on the US on 11 September - that reminds the protagonists how far they have come.

"It is part of my own healing to hear his story," says Jo Tuffnell.

Patrick Magee muses: "I wouldn't ask them to forgive, why should they? - just the understanding is all I could hope for."

Facing The Enemy: Everyman, BBC Two, Thursday 2100 GMT

See also:

28 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Brighton bomb 'led to peace'
22 Jun 99 | UK Politics
Outrage as Brighton bomber freed
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