22 December 2005

Today in history: Heath's home is bombed

BBC ON THIS DAY

22 December 1974


Mr Heath arrived home after the explosion happened

The London home of the Conservative leader and former Prime Minister Edward Heath has been bombed.

He was not at home at the time but arrived 10 minutes later.

It is not yet known how much damage the 2lb bomb caused the building at Victoria, London, but there are reports the front door is broken, glass smashed and the front room is damaged.

No one has admitted carrying out the attack but the IRA is suspected.

Witnesses describe seeing a man emerging from a Cortina car and throwing what is believed to have been the bomb on to the first floor balcony of the house.

Two policemen and a patrol car are understood to have chased the vehicle as it drove off.

The Cortina crashed a few minutes later in Chelsea and several men fled from the vehicle.

Mr Heath, who had been conducting a carol service at his home town of Broadstairs, Kent, was driven off by police to an undisclosed location after his arrival at home.

Patrol

He returned later to inspect the damage with bomb squad chief, Commander Robert Huntley.

His house keeper, Mrs Crawford, and her daughter, who were both in the house at the time, were not injured.

Mr Heath told waiting reporters the Prime Minister Harold Wilson had sent him a message which was "very much appreciated".

Addressed 'Dear Ted', Mr Wilson said: "This attack will only strengthen our united resolve to bring these things to justice."

Mr Heath, carrying an overnight bag, was then driven away by police.

He said the attack would not deter him from travelling to Ulster tomorrow as planned.

As leader of the opposition Mr Heath has a Special Branch police bodyguard with him at all times.

The house is under "short" police patrol which means there are extra cars and foot patrols in the area but not directly outside the building.

In Context

The IRA was blamed for the attack on Mr Heath.

It came just hours before its Christmas truce, agreed after talks with Protestant churchmen, was due to come into effect.

The truce lasted until 16 January 1975.

The attack came in a year of IRA violence after an attempt at power sharing between the different factions in Northern Ireland broke down.

It was the third time Mr Heath had escaped a London bomb blast, although only one of those was directed at him.

In October he had been dining at London club when a bomb went off.

And on the Saturday before the attack on his home he had been at Harrods, Knightsbridge, shortly before a similar blast.


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