A Tory MP who was in Brighton’s Grand Hotel when it was bombed by the IRA 25 years ago has spoken about the row over the bomber’s visit to Parliament.
Maldon MP John Whittingdale was working for the Tory party at the 1984 party conference and was on the scene when the bomb killed five people and seriously injured 34 more.
Among those killed in the blast was Roberta Wakeham, wife of Mr Whittingdale’s predecessor as Maldon’s MP, John, now Lord Wakeham. Lord Wakeham was trapped for seven hours and seriously injured.
IRA bomber Patrick Magee sparked controversy when he visited the Commons on Tuesday to speak about reconciliation.
The 58-year-old’s visit sparked anger among some MPs because Magee has never apologised for the attack.
Maldon and Chelmsford East MP Mr Whittingdale was in the Grand when the ceiling fell on him. He said: “I was due to start as an adviser to Norman Tebbit on the Monday after, which I did, but for the first three months I had to go to visit him in his hospital bed.
“He was quite badly hurt and the truth is, if you are ever close to a bomb going off, the memory lasts forever. I remember ringing my mother to tell her this had happened, with no idea who was alive and who was not.”
Lord Tebbit has said he struggled to forgive terrorists who hadn't apologised.
Mr Whittingdale added: “They are there to talk about reconciliation, but I would feel as Norman Tebbit did.
“It is one thing to reach reconciliation but they have not said they were wrong to do what they did and not shown any regret.
“People have died. I don’t think we can forget that. I can understand why Norman Tebbit feels the way he does.”
Magee has argued he joined the IRA as a young man because he felt he had to defend the area where he lived.
He was sentenced to eight life sentences in 1986, but freed in 1999 under the Good Friday Agreement.
A ceremony was held in Brighton on Monday to mark the 25th anniversary of the bombing.
Lord Wakeham, Conservative Chief Whip at the time of the attack, was gravely injured and almost lost his legs in the blast.
While he recovered, future Prime Minister John Major took over his constituency duties in Maldon and Colchester South .
Lord Wakeham has declined to comment publicly on the bombing or the recent controversy.