Thirty years ago, a terrorist bomb exploded at the Conservative Party conference, killing five people and wounding 34. Now, former party chairman Lord Tebbit has said he will never forgive the man who planted that bomb, branding him a “creature”.
The bomb was planted by IRA militant Patrick Magee in an assassination attempt against Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The attempt failed, however, leaving Thatcher unhurt, but many party activists and officials were seriously injured, including one MP killed.
One of the most seriously injured was Lord Tebbit’s wife, Margaret, who was left permanently paralysed, while Tebbit himself also suffered multiple injuries.
Writing for the Telegraph, Lord Tebbit spoke of his wife’s “unrelieved suffering”, saying that “justice has not been done” for her and many others. He also said why he is unable to forgive Magee: “I am often asked if I can find it in my heart to forgive the creature, Patrick Magee, who planted the bomb. That is not possible, for Magee has never repented.
“It was not he who decided to commit that crime in Brighton, financed it and procured the bomb that he planted. If he was repentant and wanted to see justice done, he would have told the truth and named those guilty of those crimes.”
Magee was eventually caught and jailed for life, but was released in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland.
Lord Tebbit also recalled the moment of the attack and the darkness and pain that followed: “We were not very late to bed and were sound asleep until woken by the explosion of the bomb. The chandelier swung wildly, the floor collapsed, and we were tipped out of bed into a pitch-black void as the rubble crashed down on to us.
“The pain was indescribable. Something tore a great hole in my left side and we were left buried. I was able to call out for Margaret. As she replied I found that I could reach out to her hand, and we each tried to comfort the other.”
Lord Tebbit was writing as part of the commemorations of the 30th anniversary of the bombing. Current Prime Minister David Cameron also issued a statement praising Margaret Thatcher’s “defiant response” to the bombing that “Britain will never be cowed by terrorists.”
“It is a message we repeat today as we face down the threat from violent extremism, whether in the skies over Iraq or on the streets of our towns and cities,” he added.
“As we remember today those killed and injured in Brighton, we must renew our vow that terrorism must never win.”