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Sunday, May 2, 1999 Published at 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK

Thousands remember Soho dead

Thousands attended the vigil from all across London

Thousands of people have joined a vigil in central London to remember the victims of Friday night's nail bomb attack.

The nail bomb terror
It had been expected that the event would be fairly low-key, but Soho Square was filled with mourners, mainly from the gay community.

Three people died after a bomb ripped through the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho. Among the dead was a married woman, Andrea Dykes, 27, and the best man at her wedding, John Light, 32, along with another friend, Nick Moore, 31.

The attack was the third nail bombing in two weeks. It happened in Old Compton Street as Bank Holiday crowds enjoyed a sunny Friday evening. The street was re-opened only on Sunday morning after forensic scientists and detectives had combed the area for clues.

Organised by the London Gay Men's Chorus, the remembrance was addressed by Home Office minister Paul Boateng, a senior police chief, gay activists and a gay rabbi.

Sir Ian McKellan, speaking to the BBC's David Sillito: "Outrage, anger and deep sorrow"
But the speeches given by a friend of the victims of the bombing and the officer in charge of policing Soho were the most warmly received.

Director of Stonewall Angela Mason spoke of her anger at the attack. "Nobody, but nobody is going to bomb us back into the closet," she said.

Mr Boateng told the crowd that despite their sadness, they should continue to celebrate their recently won freedom to express diversity.

[ image: Floral tributes have been arriving throughout the day]
Floral tributes have been arriving throughout the day
"I am here to say on behalf of your government that there is nothing so precious to the creation of the just, tolerant human society that is our objective, than to preserve by all means possible its inclusivity," he said.

He was loudly applauded for expressing his thanks to the emergency services, including the police, for their efforts on the community's behalf.

But Peter Tatchell, from the gay rights group OutRage!, said the "most lasting tribute" the government could offer was to extend recent legislation against racist crimes. He said it should cover offences carried out through homophobic prejudice.

[ image: Numerous messages of support have been left]
Numerous messages of support have been left
The friend of those killed in the bombing, known only as Mark, wept as he told the crowd: "Thanks everybody for coming and for all your support."

Chief Superintendent Jo Kaye, responsible for policing Soho, paid tribute to the "strength and dignity" of the gay community in the face of appalling terror.

The vigil ended with two minutes' silence for the three people killed by the blast in the Admiral Duncan pub.

Defiant tributes

Dozens of floral tributes and candles have been left next to the police cordon around the wreckage of the gay Admiral Duncan bar nearby.

Many of the bouquets included messages, some from the staff of local bars and restaurants. One read simply: "Fascists, you are in the minority."

About the same time that the vigil was taking place, Scotland Yard announced that 22-year-old engineer David Copeland has been charged with murder over the Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho bombings.

Police stressed he does not have links with organised right-wing groups.

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