Tag Archives: Ian Gow

Ian Gow : Assassinated by the IRA 3oth July 1990

Ian Reginald Edward Gow

Ian Reginald Edward Gow TD 11 February 1937 – 30 July 1990) was a British Conservative politician and solicitor. While serving as Member of Parliament (MP) for Eastbourne, he was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), who exploded a bomb under his car outside his home in East Sussex.

Early life

Ian Gow was born at 3 Upper Harley Street, London, the son of Alexander Edward Gow, a London doctor attached to St Bartholomew’s Hospital who died in 1952. Ian Gow was educated at Winchester College, where he was president of the debating society. During a period of national service from 1955 to 1958 he was commissioned in the 15th/19th Hussars and served in Northern Ireland, Germany and Malaya. He subsequently served in the territorial army until 1976, attaining the rank of Major.

After completing national service he took up a career in the law and qualified as a solicitor in 1962. He eventually became a partner in the London practice of Joynson-Hicks and Co.

 He also became a Conservative Party activist. He stood for Parliament in the Coventry East constituency for the 1964 general election, but lost to Richard Crossman. He then stood for the Clapham constituency, a Labour-held London marginal seat, in the 1966 general election. An account in The Times of his candidature described him in the following terms:

“He is a bachelor solicitor, aged 29, wearing his public school manner as prominently as his rosette. Words such as ‘overpowering’, ‘arrogant’, and ‘bellicose’ are used to describe him.”

After failing to take Clapham,  he continued his quest to find a seat. He eventually succeeded at Eastbourne in 1972 after the local Party de-selected its sitting member, Sir Charles Taylor. Sir Charles had represented Eastbourne since 1935 and did not take kindly to Gow.

Parliamentary career

Gow entered Parliament as the member for Eastbourne in the general election of February 1974. For a home in his constituency, Gow acquired a 16th-century manor house known as The Doghouse in the village of Hankham. Eastbourne was then a safe Conservative seat, and Gow always had a majority share of the vote during his time as the constituency’s MP. In the general election of October 1974, he secured a 10% swing from Liberal to Conservative, doubling his majority.

In the 1975 Conservative leadership election, Gow voted for Margaret Thatcher in the first round ballot. Once Thatcher had forced Edward Heath out of the contest, several new candidates appeared and Gow switched his support to Geoffrey Howe in the second round, which Thatcher won. Gow was brought onto the Conservative front bench in 1978 to share the duties of opposition spokesman on Northern Ireland with Airey Neave.

Ian Gow First Televised Speech In Commons

The two men developed a Conservative policy on Northern Ireland which favoured integration of the province with Great Britain. This approach appeared to avoid compromise with the province’s nationalist minority and with the government of the Republic of Ireland. Both Neave and Gow were killed by car bomb attacks in 1979 and 1990 respectively. Irish republican paramilitaries claimed responsibility in both cases, but nobody was ever charged with causing the deaths and claims were made concerning possible involvement of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and intelligence community.

See: Airey Neave- The Assasination of Airey Neave

Through his association with Neave, Gow was introduced to the inner circles of the Conservative Party. He was appointed parliamentary private secretary to Margaret Thatcher in May 1979 at the time she became Prime Minister. While serving in this capacity between 1979 and 1983, Gow became a close friend and confidant of the Prime Minister. He was deeply involved in the workings of Thatcher’s private office until his departure in June 1983.

Though elevated to junior ministerial office as Minister for Housing and Construction before moving later to the Treasury, Gow was known to be disappointed by his loss of influence with the Prime Minister in his new role. In late 1983 he developed plans with Alan Clark to reinvigorate Thatcher’s private office by expanding it and its influence over policy, thereby creating a new role for himself, but these came to nothing.

Although later identified with the right-wing of the Party, he took a liberal position on some issues. He visited Rhodesia at the time of its Unilateral Declaration of Independence and was subsequently critical of the country’s white minority regime. As an MP, Gow consistently voted against the restoration of the death penalty.

 As Minister of State for Housing and Construction (from 1983 to June 1985) he showed a willingness to commit public funds to housing projects that alarmed some on the right-wing of the Conservative party.

“After taking what was perhaps too principled a stand in a complex dispute over Housing Improvement Grants, he was moved sideways to the post of minister of state at the Treasury”.

From 1982, Conservative policy began to move towards a more flexible position on Northern Ireland. In November 1985, Gow was persuaded by the speeches his cousin Nicholas Budgen made to resign as Minister of State in HM Treasury over the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

Despite his disagreement with government policy, he used his resignation speech to underline his personal devotion to Thatcher, describing her as:

“the finest chief, the most resolute leader, the kindest friend that any member of this House could hope to serve.” 

The Anglo-Irish Agreement would ultimately lead to devolved government for Northern Ireland, power sharing in the province and engagement with the Republic. After his resignation from the government, Gow became chairman of the parliamentary Conservative backbench committee on Northern Ireland. He was a leading opponent of any compromise with republicans and his tactics in this regard caused concern to the Northern Ireland Secretary Jim Prior and other MPs –

“He [Gow] co-ordinated the Tory backbench opposition to Mr Prior’s Northern Ireland Assembly bill in the early 1980s. His activities were said to have startled other Tory MPs and led to a complaint from an enraged Mr Prior to Mrs Thatcher.” 

Although he was opposed to the broadcasting of Parliamentary debates, on 21 November 1989, he nevertheless delivered the first televised speech in the House of Commons. Until 1989, television cameras did not show proceedings in the House of Commons, although it had been discussed eight times between 1964 and 1989. In 1988 MPs backed an experiment with cameras in the chamber, and 1989 Commons proceedings were televised for the first time on 21 November. Technically, Gow was not the first MP to appear on camera in the chamber, as Bob Cryer, the MP for Bradford South raised a point of order before Gow presented the Loyal Address at the opening of Parliament.

In his speech, Gow referred to a letter he had received from a firm of consultants who had offered to improve his personal appearance and television image, making a few self-deprecating jokes about his baldness. MPs agreed in 1990 to make the experiment permanent.

In spite of his disagreement with the direction in which Government policy on Northern Ireland was moving, Gow remained on close terms with Thatcher. In November 1989, he worked in Thatcher’s leadership election campaign against the stalking horse candidate, Sir Anthony Meyer. But it was reported that by the time of his death he believed Thatcher’s premiership had reached a logical end and that she should retire. Gow enjoyed friendships with people of various political persuasions, including left-wing Labour MP Tony Banks. Alan Clark described him as “my closest friend by far in politics”.

Personal life

Gow married Jane Elizabeth Packe (born 1944) in Yorkshire on 10 September 1966. They had two sons, Charles Edward (born 1968) and James Alexander (born 1970).

See: Wife of MP Ian Gow breaks her silence after British soldiers face prosecution for their actions in Northern Ireland while her husband’s IRA killers remain free

Assassination

Although aware that he was a potential IRA assassination target, unlike most British MPs of that era, he left his telephone number and home address in the local telephone directory. In the early hours of 30 July 1990, a bomb was planted under Gow’s Austin Montego car, which was parked in the driveway of his house in Hankham, near Pevensey in East Sussex.

The 4.5 lb (2.0 kg) Semtex bomb detonated at 08:39 as Gow reversed out of his driveway, leaving him with severe wounds to his lower body.

He died ten minutes later.

Ian Gow Murder 1990 BBC News Report

On hearing of Gow’s death, Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock commented:

“This is a terrible atrocity against a man whose only offence was to speak his mind…. I had great disagreement with Ian Gow and he with me, but no one can doubt his sincerity or his courage, and it is appalling that he should lose his life because of these qualities.”

In her autobiography, The Downing Street Years, Margaret Thatcher described his murder as an “irreplaceable loss”.

The Assassination of MP Ian Gow | Thames News Archive Footage

The IRA claimed responsibility for killing Gow, stating that he was targeted because he was a “close personal associate” of Thatcher and because of his role in developing British policy on Northern Ireland.

Aftermath

Evaluations of Gow’s political career by obituarists were mixed in tone. All commented on his personal charm and his skills in public speaking and political manoeuvre. But his obituary in The Times stated,

“It could not be said that his resignation in 1985 cut short a brilliant ministerial career”.

A tendency toward political intrigue (for example, trying to covertly undermine Jim Prior’s Northern Ireland initiative after 1982) made him enemies.

Nicholas Budgen commented that Gow’s personal devotion to Thatcher may not have been good for Thatcher or her government.

Gow’s widow Jane was appointed a DBE in 1990 and thus became Dame Jane Gow. On 4 February 1994, she remarried in West Somerset to Lt-Col. Michael Whiteley, and became known as Dame Jane Whiteley. She continues to promote the life and work of her first husband.

When the Eastbourne by-election for his seat in the House of Commons was won by the Liberal Democrat David Bellotti, the Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe sent a message to voters saying:

“Bellotti is the innocent beneficiary of murder. I suspect that last night as the Liberal Democrats were toasting their success, in its hideouts the IRA were doing the same thing”.

See 30th July

See: Before Jo Cox the last MP to be murdered was Ian Gow who was killed in an IRA explosion

Margaret Thatcher’s Memorable Remarks: A Video Mash-up | The New York Times

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30th July Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

3oth July

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Thursday 30 July 1970

There were further riots in Belfast.

Monday 30 July 1990 Ian Gow Killed

Ian Gow, then the Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Eastbourne, was killed outside his home by an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb that had been planted on his car. Gow had been a vocal critic of the IRA and a close friend of Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister.

Friday 30 July 1976

Four Protestant civilians were shot dead at a pub off Milltown Road, Belfast. The attack was claimed by the Republican Action Force.[59]

Wednesday 30 July 1986

John Kyle (40), a Protestant civilian, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as he sat in McCullagh’s Bar, Greencastle, County Tyrone. Kyle had been working as a contractor to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). [This killing followed threats made by the IRA on 28 July 1986.]

Sunday 30 July 1978

Tomás Ó Fiaich, Catholic Primate of Ireland, paid a visit to Republican prisoners in the Maze Prison. The prisoners were taking part in the ‘blanket protest’. [Over 300 Republican prisoners were refusing to wear prison clothes or follow normal prison regulations in an attempt to secure a return of special category status.]

Friday 31 July 1981

Peter Doherty (36), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by a plastic bullet fired by the British Army while at his home in Divis Flats, Belfast. A former member of the RUC was shot dead by the INLA in Strabane, County Tyrone.

The family of Paddy Quinn, then on day 47 of his hunger strike, intervened and asked for medical treatment to save his life. [This series of events was to be repeated a number of times towards the end of the hunger strike as more and more familles intervened to save the hunger strikers.]

Sunday 30 July 1995

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) prevented a Sinn Féin (SF) march from entering the centre of Lurgan, County Armagh. The reason given was the presence of a counter-demonstration of 1,500 Loyalists. The Loyalists were addressed by Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and David Trimble, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MP.

Three RUC officers and one civilian were injured when Loyalists rioted. Trimble called the violence “insignificant”. [Later Ken Maginnis, then UUP MP, disagreed and criticised the violence as “deliberate thuggery”. The Portadown Branch of the UUP criticised the RUC and in particular “a well known Roman Catholic” Bill McCreesh, then a Chief Superintendent.]

The Irish government ordered the early release of 12 Republican prisoners. [This brought the total number of early releases in the Republic of Ireland to 33.]

Thursday 30 July 1998

There was a series of fire-bomb attacks on shops in Portadown, County Armagh. Republican dissidents were believed to be responsible. The government released the names of the ten members of the Commission dealing with releases of paramilitary prisoners. The joint chairpersons were John Blelloch, formerly a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) permanent secretary, and Brian Currin, then a South African lawyer.

Friday 30 July 1999

Charles Bennett Killed

Charles Bennett (22), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead in Belfast. It was believed that he had been abducted and held for four days before being bound and then shot twice in the head. Bennett was a taxi-driver from New Lodge and his body, which showed evidence of him having been beaten, was found off the Falls Road. [The IRA later admitted responsibility for the killing.]


Today is the anniversary of the following  people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will life forever

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

“There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.”

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13  People lost their lives on the 30th July between 1969 – 2015

30 July 1972

William McAfee,  (54)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY) Found shot, Cairnburn Road, off Old Holywood Road, Belfast.

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30 July 1974

Bernard Fearns,  (34) nfNI

Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Hillman Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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 July 1976

Robert Scott,  (28)

Protestant

Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to gate at his father’s farm, Druminard, near Moneymore, County Derry.

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30 July 1976

John McCleave, (48)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF) Shot during gun attack on Stag Inn, off Milltown Road, Belvoir, Belfast.

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30 July 1976

John McKay,  (50)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF) Shot during gun attack on Stag Inn, off Milltown Road, Belvoir, Belfast

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30 July 1976

James Doherty,  (70)

Protestant Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF) Shot during gun attack on Stag Inn, off Milltown Road, Belvoir, Belfast.

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30 July 1976

Thompson McCreight, (60)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF) Shot during gun attack on Stag Inn, off Milltown Road, Belvoir, Belfast. He died 8 August 1976

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 July 1983

Martin Malone,  (18)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) Shot during altercation between local people and Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) foot patrol, Callan Terrace, Armagh.

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30 July 1983

Mark Kinghan, (19)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: not known (nk) Died eight days after being hit on head by brick thrown during street disturbances at junction of Whitewell Road and Shore Road, Greencastle, Belfast.

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 30 July 1986

John Kyle,  (40)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Shot while in McCullagh’s Bar, Greencastle, County Tyrone. Contractor to Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

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30 July 1990

Ian Gow,  (53) nfNIB

Status: Civilian Political Activist (CivPA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Conservative Member of Parliament. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to his car outside his home, Hankham, Pevensey, Sussex, England.

See:  Ian Gow’s death

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30 July 1999

Charles Bennett,  (22)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP) Found shot in car park, by St. Gall’s GAA Club, off Falls Road, Belfast.

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30 July 2005

photo

Stephen Paul (28)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ)

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)

Shot dead at Wheatfield Crescent, off the Crumlin Road, Belfast. [Media reports claimed that Stephen Paul was linked to the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). It was believed that the kiling was part of a feud between the UVF and the LVF


See: Ian Gow 

 

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Airey Neave- The Assasination of Airey Neave

Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave

Airey Neave

23 January 1916 – 30 March 1979

Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave, DSO, OBE, MC, TD (23 January 1916 – 30 March 1979) was a British army officer, barrister and politician.

During World War II, Neave was the first British officer to successfully escape from the German prisoner-of-war camp Oflag IV-C at Colditz Castle. He later became Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Abingdon.

Neave was assassinated in 1979 in a car-bomb attack at the House of Commons. The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) claimed responsibility.

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The Assasination of Airey Neave

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Early life

Neave was the son of Sheffield Airey Neave CMG, OBE (1879–1961), a well-known entomologist, and his wife Dorothy (d. 1943), the daughter of Arthur Thomson Middleton. His father was the grandson of Sheffield Neave, the third son of Sir Thomas Neave, 2nd Baronet (see Neave Baronets). Neave spent his early years in Knightsbridge in London, before he moved to Beaconsfield. Neave was sent to St. Ronan’s School, Worthing, and from there, in 1929, he went to Eton College.

He went on to study jurisprudence at Merton College, Oxford While at Eton, Neave composed a prize-winning essay in 1933 that examined the likely consequences of Adolf Hitler‘s rise to supreme power in Germany, and Neave predicted then that another widespread war would break out in Europe in the near future. Neave had earlier been on a visit to Germany, and he witnessed the Nazi German methods of grasping political and military power in their hands.

At Eton, Neave served in the school cadet corps as a cadet lance corporal, and received a territorial commission as a second lieutenant in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on 11 December 1935.]

When Neave went to Oxford University, he purchased and read the entire written works of the writer Carl von Clausewitz. When Neave was asked why, he answered:

“since war [is] coming, it [is] only sensible to learn as much as possible about the art of waging it”.

During 1938, Neave completed his third-class degree in the study of jurisprudence. By his own admission, while at Oxford University, Neave did only the minimal amount of academic work that was required of him by his tutors.

Wartime service

Neave transferred his territorial commission to the Royal Engineers on 2 May 1938  and following the outbreak of war he was mobilised. Sent to France in February 1940 as part of a searchlight regiment, he was wounded and captured by the Germans at Calais on 23 May 1940. He was imprisoned at Oflag IX-A/H near Spangenberg and in February 1941 moved to Stalag XX-A near Thorn in German-occupied western Poland. Meanwhile, Neave’s commission was transferred to the Royal Artillery on 1 August 1940.

In April 1941 he escaped from Thorn with Norman Forbes. They were captured near Ilow while trying to enter Soviet-controlled Poland and were briefly in the hands of the Gestapo. In May, they were both sent to Oflag IV-C (often referred to as Colditz Castle because of its location).

Image result for Colditz Castle

Neave made his first attempt to escape from Colditz on 28 August 1941 disguised as a German NCO. He did not get out of the castle as his hastily contrived German uniform (made from a Polish army tunic and cap painted with scenery paint) was rendered bright green under the prison searchlights.

Together with Dutch officer Anthony Luteyn he made a second attempt on 5 January 1942, again in disguise. Better uniforms and escape route (they made a quick exit from a theatrical production using the trap door beneath the stage) got them out of the prison and by train and on foot they travelled to Leipzig and Ulm and finally reached the border to Switzerland near Singen. Via France, Spain and Gibraltar, Neave returned to England in April 1942. Neave was the first British officer to escape from Colditz Castle.

On 12 May 1942, shortly after his return to England, he was decorated with the Military Cross. He was subsequently promoted to war substantive captain and to the permanent rank of captain on 11 April 1945. A temporary major at the war’s end, he was appointed an MBE (Military Division) on 30 August 1945, and awarded the DSO on 18 October.

As a result, the earlier award of the MBE was cancelled on 25 October.

He was later recruited as an intelligence agent for MI9. While at MI9, he was the immediate superior of Michael Bentine. He also served with the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials, investigating Krupp. As a well-known war hero – as well as a qualified lawyer who spoke fluent German – he was honoured with the role of reading the indictments to the Nazi leaders on trial. He wrote several books about his war experiences including an account of the Trials.

A temporary lieutenant-colonel by 1947, he was appointed an OBE (Military Division) in that year’s Birthday Honours.[17] He was awarded the Bronze Star by the US government on 23 July 1948,  and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel on 1 April 1950, At the same time, his promotion to acting major was gazetted, with retroactive effect from 16 April 1948. He entered the reserves on 21 September 1951.

Political career

Neave stood for the Conservative Party at the 1950 election in Thurrock and at Ealing North in 1951. He was elected for Abingdon in a by-election in June 1953, but his career was held back by a heart attack he suffered in 1959.

He was a Governor of Imperial College between 1963 and 1971 and was a member of the House of Commons select committee on Science and Technology between 1965 and 1970.

Edward Heath, when Chief Whip, was alleged to have told Neave that after he suffered his heart attack his career was finished  but in his 1998 autobiography, Heath strongly denied ever making such a remark. He admitted that in December 1974 Neave had told him to stand down for the good of the party. During the final two months of 1974, Neave had asked Keith Joseph, William Whitelaw and Edward du Cann to stand against Heath, and said that in the case of any of them challenging for the party leadership, he would be their campaign manager.

When all three refused to stand, Neave agreed to be the campaign manager for Margaret Thatcher‘s attempt to become leader of the Conservative Party, that was eventually victorious.

When Thatcher was elected leader in February 1975, he was rewarded with the post of head of her private office. He was then appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and was poised to attain the equivalent Cabinet position at the time of his death in the event of their party winning the general election of 1979. In opposition, Neave was a strong supporter of Roy Mason, who had extended the policy of Ulsterisation.

Neave was author of the new and radical Conservative policy of abandoning devolution in Northern Ireland if there was no early progress in that regard and concentrating on local government reform instead. This integrationist policy was hastily abandoned by Humphrey Atkins, who became Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the role Neave had shadowed.

Tony Benn2.jpg

Politician Tony Benn records in his diary (17 February 1981) that a journalist from the New Statesman, Duncan Campbell, told him that he had received information from an intelligence agent two years previously that Neave had planned to have Benn assassinated if a Labour government was elected, James Callaghan resigned and there was a possibility that Benn might be elected party leader in his place. Campbell claimed that the agent was ready to give his name and the New Statesman was going to print the story.

Benn, however, discounted the validity of the story and wrote in his diary:

“No one will believe for a moment that Airey Neave would have done such a thing”.

The magazine printed the story on 20 February 1981, naming the agent as Lee Tracey. Tracey claimed to have met Neave and was asked to join a team of intelligence and security specialists which would “make sure Benn was stopped”. Tracey planned a second meeting with Neave but Neave was killed before they could meet again.

Assassination

 

 

Memorial plaque to Airey Neave at his alma mater, Merton College, Oxford

 
 

Airey Neave was killed on 30 March 1979, when a magnetic car bomb fitted with a ball bearing tilt switch exploded under his new Vauxhall Cavalier  at 14:58 as he drove out of the Palace of Westminster car park.

He lost his right leg below the knee and his left was hanging on by a flap of skin. Neave died in hospital an hour after being freed from the wreckage without regaining consciousness.

The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), an illegal Irish republican paramilitary group, claimed responsibility for the killing.

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Margaret Thatcher speaking to the press immediately after the assassination of Airey Neave

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Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher led tributes, saying:

He was one of freedom’s warriors. No one knew of the great man he was, except those nearest to him. He was staunch, brave, true, strong; but he was very gentle and kind and loyal. It’s a rare combination of qualities. There’s no one else who can quite fill them. I, and so many other people, owe so much to him and now we must carry on for the things he fought for and not let the people who got him triumph.

Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan said:

James Callaghan.JPG

“No effort will be spared to bring the murderers to justice and to rid the United Kingdom of the scourge of terrorism.”

The INLA issued a statement regarding the killing in the August 1979 edition of The Starry Plough:

In March, retired terrorist and supporter of capital punishment, Airey Neave, got a taste of his own medicine when an INLA unit pulled off the operation of the decade and blew him to bits inside the ‘impregnable’ Palace of Westminster. The nauseous Margaret Thatcher snivelled on television that he was an ‘incalculable loss’—and so he was—to the British ruling class.

Neave’s death came just two days after the vote of no confidence which brought down Callaghan’s government and a few weeks before the 1979 general election, which brought about a Conservative victory and saw Thatcher come to power as Prime Minister. Neave’s wife Diana, whom he married on 29 December 1942, was subsequently elevated to the House of Lords as Baroness Airey of Abingdon.

Neave’s biographer Paul Routledge met a member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (the political wing of INLA) who was involved in the killing of Neave and who told Routledge that Neave:

“would have been very successful at that job [Northern Ireland Secretary]. He would have brought the armed struggle to its knees”.

Conspiracy theories

Whilst working in the House of Commons as Paddy Ashdown‘s research assistant, Kevin Cahill claims to have had around six conversations with the security staff there. The most frequent remark was that “everyone knew” the story behind Neave’s death but that no one could talk about it in detail because it would have been too dangerous. Cahill claims they did not believe INLA killed Neave but that it was an “inside job”.

Cahill concluded that Neave was killed by MI6 agents working with the CIA because Neave sought to prosecute senior figures in the intelligence establishment for corruption.

Another person who did not accept the generally accepted version of events was Enoch Powell, the Ulster Unionist MP. Powell claimed in an interview with The Guardian on 9 January 1984 that the Americans had killed Neave, along with Lord Mountbatten and Robert Bradford MP. He claimed the evidence came from a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary with whom he had a conversation.

On 18 October 1986 Powell returned to the subject of Neave’s death in a speech to Conservative students in Birmingham. He told them that INLA had not killed Neave, but that he had been assassinated by “MI6 and their friends”. Powell claimed Neave’s Northern Ireland policy had been one of integration with the rest of the UK and that the Americans feared that this process, if implemented by Neave, would have been irreversible.

His killing, alleged Powell, was intended to make the British Government adopt a policy more acceptable to America in her aim of a united Ireland within NATO.

In 2014, 35 years after Neave’s death, it was reported that a fictionalised account of Neave’s murder was to be used in a Channel 4 drama. The drama, Utopia, portrays Neave as a drinker who colluded with spies and portrays his assassination as perpetrated by MI5.

This led to condemnation of the broadcaster, with Norman Tebbit (a friend and colleague of Neave and survivor of the Brighton hotel bombing in 1984) saying:

“To attack a man like that who is dead and cannot defend himself is despicable”.

Neave’s family, who had not been consulted about the programme, announced their intention to take action to prevent the programme from being broadcast, claiming it had “fictionalised the atrocity ‘in the name of entertainment’ as well as falsely depicting him as a debauched and conniving figure.

Main source: https: wikipedia

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