Brighton bombing: 25th anniversary of Sir Anthony Berry's death remembered

First published in Where I Live by

THE BRIGHTON bombing, in which Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet narrowly escaped death, is also remembered by Southgate residents as the day their MP of 20 years was killed.

Sir Anthony Berry, who became deputy chief whip under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was killed on October 12 1984 when his room in the Grand Hotel Brighton was reduced to rubble.

The bomb, planted by IRA member Patrick McGee, killed five people. Members of Thatcher’s cabinet narrowly escaped death, but several people were left permanently disabled in the attack, including Margaret Tebbit, the wife of Norman Tebbit, a former Chingford MP. Thatcher’s bathroom was demolished in the explosion.

Today, 25 years on, Sir Anthony’s widow, Sarah, and daughter Sasha, remembered him with a plaque at the newly renamed Sir Anthony Berry House in Chaseville Parade, Winchmore Hill.

Lady Berry, who lives in Berkshire, and was married to Sir Anthony for 19 years, had to be treated in hospital with a broken hip after falling three floors through the rubble.

She said: “It is very significant and lovely for me and the family that he is remembered in this way. I can’t really talk about what happened, it is as if it happened yesterday.”

Daughter Sasha, 40, who has two children aged seven and five, said was 15 when her father died.

She described the moment she was woken up along with other MPs daughters at Down House, an independent girls boarding school in Berkshire.

She said: “I was told a bomb had gone off in the Grand Hotel. I didn’t know if they were there. The fact that my father had gone to the Tory party conference wasn’t really something I knew about. I was told I was going home and as soon as I saw my brother’s and sister’s faces I knew that something was wrong.”

On whether she is able to forgive those responsible, she said: “I don’t think it is about that really. It wasn’t intended that my father should die. I can’t really work out why it happened, you just learn to live with it.”

David Burrowes, the current Conservative MP for Southgate, highlighted what others described as Sir Anthony’s “assiduousness” in regularly paying home visits to his constituents.

“Sir Anthony’s commitment is something we should remember with fondness and respect” he said.

The ceremony was also cross-party as Stephen Twigg, who was Labour MP for Southgate from 1997 to 2005, was also there to pay his respects.

Tony Dey, councillor for Chase ward, Sir Anthony’s agent, who also served Michael Portillo until his defeat in 1997, said: “He taught me the concept of customer service.”

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