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1971: British minister's home bombed

Two bombs have exploded at the Hertfordshire home of Employment Secretary Robert Carr causing serious damage.

The first device went off soon after 2200, near the kitchen of the house in Barnet, where moments earlier Mr Carr's wife Joan had been preparing some drinks.

The second went off a few minutes later. A policeman answering an emergency call after the first explosion was blown off his feet as he hurried towards the house.

The explosions blew out windows and extensively damaged the ground floor of the house.

Mr Carr, his wife and their youngest daughter, Virginia, 13, left the house after the first explosion and took cover in a neighbour's home. No-one was hurt.

The blasts came after a day of protest against the new industrial relations bill.


"When we looked out into the hall, the front door had been blown open"

Robert Carr

Mr Carr described what happened: "I had just opened my dispatch box to do my evening's work and there was this loud explosion.

"The windows in the room we were in weren't blown in, but it was obvious we could hear other windows blown in and when we looked out into the hall, the front door had been blown open."

He said it was too soon to say who had planted the bomb and refused to be drawn on whether the attack could have anything to do with the industrial relations bill.

Mr Carr added: "I think it would be wrong to associate this with anything at the moment.

"The police are investigating and until they've investigated it would really be very foolish and wrong to suggest anything at all."

Mr Carr has been the chief negotiator with the unions over the industrial relations bill, which passed its second reading in the Commons on 15 December.

The government hopes to reduce industrial disruption by introducing the idea of strike ballots and a cooling off period before any action is taken. There are also proposals aimed at limiting the practice of closed shop agreements.

Labour and the unions claim the proposals are too restrictive and infringe workers' freedoms.

In Context
Two days later, an anonymous letter sent to Fleet Street newspapers by an extremist anarchist group calling themselves The Angry Brigade said they had planted the bombs.

The Angry Brigade also claimed to have carried out attacks on the Spanish Embassy in London and planted bombs near a BBC van during the Miss World contest and at the Department of Employment offices in Westminster.

On 6 December 1972 the longest criminal trial in British legal history - it lasted 111 days - ended when two men and two women, part of a group of eight young anarchists belonging to the Angry Brigade, were jailed for 10 years for conspiring to cause explosions.


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