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1984: Tory Cabinet in Brighton bomb blast

VIDEO : Prime minister and Cabinet targeted in Brighton bomb attack

There has been a direct bomb attack on the British Government at the Conservative party conference in Brighton.

At least two people have been killed and many others seriously injured, including two senior Cabinet ministers.

The blast tore apart the Brighton Grand Hotel where members of the Cabinet have been staying for the Conservative party conference.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband Dennis narrowly escaped injury.

The IRA has issued a statement claiming it had placed a 100lb bomb in the hotel.

The statement read: "Today we were unlucky, but remember, we only have to be lucky once; you will have to be lucky always. Give Ireland peace and there will be no war."

The dead have not yet been named. Among the injured were Trade and Industry Secretary Norman Tebbit, his wife Margaret and Government Chief Whip, John Wakeham.

Pulled from the rubble

Firemen used BBC arc lights after cables were cut to rescue Mr Tebbit from the rubble, in a painstaking operation that took several hours.

Breakfast television showed pictures of the rescue and a conscious Mr Tebbit, clearly in pain, being stretchered to safety. His wife suffered neck injuries.

The bomb went off at 0254 local time, ripping open the front of the hotel on the top floors and sending masonry crashing down on guests sleeping below.

Fireman say many lives were probably saved because the well-constructed Victorian hotel remained standing, despite the central section of eight floors collapsing into the basement.

At Mrs Thatcher's insistence the conference opened on schedule at 0930. In her redrafted speech to the party she declared:

"This attack has failed. All attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail."

The Queen was said to be "very shocked" by the bombing. Opposition Leader Neil Kinnock expressed his "horror and outrage".

Meanwhile security in the seaside town has been massively increased as rescue workers continue to search for people trapped in the rubble.

Detectives are now beginning a major investigation into who was behind the bombing and how such a major breach in security occurred.

In Context
Five people died and 34 were injured. Those killed were Anthony Berry MP, Roberta Wakeham, Eric Taylor, Muriel Maclean and Jeanne Shattock.

The bomb had been planted several weeks earlier by Patrick Magee, who checked into the hotel under a false name.

He was caught and sentenced to 35 years. Four members of an IRA "active service unit" were also jailed for involvement in the plot.

In prison Magee got a first class Open University degree in fiction and its portrayal of the Troubles.

He was released in 1999, under the Good Friday Agreement, a move described by one Downing Street spokesperson as "very hard to stomach".


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