Brighton bomb files show UK were still anxious to extradite

The aftermath of the Hyde Park bomb.
The aftermath of the Hyde Park bomb.

Newly declassified documents released under the 30 year rule show the Government were anxious to extradite Donegal man, John Downey, in late 1984 in connection with his alleged involvement in the Hyde Park bombing.

Mr Downey, who is from Creeslough and in his sixties, was arrested at Gatwick in 2013 but his prosecution, which was being brought over his alleged involvement in the 1982 IRA bombing, was thrown out at the Old Bailey last year.

His former wanted status is referred to in a partially redacted briefing note attached to a statement given by Margaret Thatcher’s Principal Private Secretary, Robin Butler, regarding security arrangements at the First Floor of the Grand Hotel, which was blown up by the IRA in October 1984.

The note, which had a paragraph redacted as late as June 2014, stated: “A man, who is understood to be living in the Republic of Ireland, is wanted by police in connection with the Hyde Park bomb attack in July 1982, and the preparation of a case for his extradition is in hand. (See separate note on Downey).”

Last year declassified documents showed that the former Irish Justice Minister Michael Noonan was reportedly worried the British Government would seek the extradition of Mr Downey, in connection with Hyde Park.

According to a secret record of a dinner, which was also attended by the Irish Foreign Minister Peter Barry and the Secretary of State Douglas Hurd, Mr Noonan feared there may not have been enough evidence to secure a conviction against Mr Downey.

The minute reveals: “He was...concerned that we might be asking for Downey on a warrant even though we might not have evidence to convict him.”

Meanwhile, the newly declassified documents also show that the authorities were also anxious to solve the conundrum of the lost security passes for the conference, which had been held by Ulster Unionist MP John Taylor and his wife Mary.

A note on the “lost passes of Mr and Mrs John Taylor” stated: “This question, along with many other enquiries, is being pursued urgently.

“Insofar as it relates to security at the Conference itself, it is a subject for Mr Hoddinott’s enquiry.”