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Brighton bomber Patrick Magee who tried to kill Thatcher objects to being called 'terrorist'

By Suzanne Breen

Published 07/10/2016

Withdrawal: Patrick Magee
Withdrawal: Patrick Magee

Brighton bomber Patrick Magee - who came close to killing Margaret Thatcher and members of her Cabinet - has pulled out of a London conference because the organisers insisted on describing him as a terrorist.

Magee was due to address the Wired 2016 technology conference next month along with Jo Berry, the daughter of Conservative MP Sir Anthony Berry, who was one of five people killed in the 1984 attack on the Grand Hotel.

Ms Berry and Magee have formed an unlikely friendship and have previously shared public platforms. Magee was to speak at the Wired conference about his years in the IRA, the ceasefire and the peace process, while Ms Berry was to discuss the role of forgiveness in resolving conflict.

Technology magazine Wired had invited a range of speakers outside the tech world to address the conference, at which it said guests could "discover some of the world's most disruptive minds and explore the trends of tomorrow".

However, in a statement to Business Insider UK, Wired UK editor David Rowan said that Mr Magee would not now be appearing at the event after he objected to being described as a former terrorist.

Mr Rowan said: "World affairs are as much part of Wired's two-day festival as technology and design, and we've previously explored creative approaches to resolving conflict in Colombia and Northern Ireland.

"This year we were interested in exploring the limits and opportunities of reconciliation in a conversation between Jo Berry, whose father was killed in the Brighton bombing, and Patrick Magee, who served time for the bombing.

"Alas, in our discussions with Magee we encountered unresolvable conflicts of our own, not least his insistence that Wired use very specific words to describe him, which must not include terms such as 'former terrorist'. We removed the session from our draft schedule in July."

Magee was given eight life sentences at the Old Bailey in 1986, with a recommendation that he spend at least 35 years in jail. He was released under the Good Friday Agreement in 1999. He has defended his role in the conflict and joining the IRA. "I regret the deaths at Brighton,'' he said. "I deeply regret that anybody had to lose their lives, but at the time did the Tory ruling class expect to remain immune from what their frontline troops were doing to us?"

Ms Berry met the man who killed her father a year after he was released from jail and now considers him a friend. "He knows that my dad was a wonderful human being and he knows that some of the qualities I have came from my father and that weighs heavily on him," she said.

Magee stayed at the Grand Hotel a month before the conference, using the name Roy Walsh, and planted the bomb under a bath in room 629. The device, which had been fitted with a long-delay timer, detonated at 2.54am on October 12. Mrs Thatcher was still awake, working on her conference speech, but she escaped uninjured. The five people killed were Sir Anthony Berry, Lady Jeanne Shattock, Eric Taylor, Lady Muriel Maclean, and Roberta Wakeham. Norman Tebitt's wife Margaret was left paralyzed from the neck-down by the blast.

Lord Tebbit has said that he cannot forgive the Brighton bomber. "I'm often asked if I can find it in my heart to forgive the creature, Patrick Magee. That is not possible, for he has never repented," he added.

In a statement claiming responsibility for the bomb, the IRA expressed regret that it had not killed leading Tories. "Today we were unlucky, but remember we only have to be lucky once," it said.

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