Commander William Hucklesby
Scotland Yard's former anti-terrorism chief, who investigated the
Brighton bombing and helped bring Patrick Magee to justice, died in 2019,
Commander William Hucklesby led the Metropolitan Police's anti-terrorist
squad from March 1982 to November 1984, during some of the worst IRA
atrocities in Great Britain.
These included two blasts in London's Hyde Park and Regent's Park in July
1982 which left 11 soldiers and seven horses dead; a car bomb attack outside
Harrods in December 1983 in which six people died and 91 were injured; and
the October 1984 Brighton bombing at the Conservative party conference,
which killed five people and injured 34.
During Mr Hucklesby's time at the helm of anti-terrorism, revised IRA
methods of operating in small, self-contained units led to fewer arrests
than those that followed attacks in the 1970s.
While there were occasional criticisms of police strategy, Mr Hucklesby was
almost always able to identify his suspects even if they had fled beyond his
At a press conference following the Brighton bomb, he rebutted claims by
unnamed "security sources" that his suggestion the device that blew up the
Grand Hotel could have been planted weeks earlier was a case of the police
"covering up the inadequacy of their own security".
He pointed out that police sniffer dogs had searched the seaside hotel
before the conference to check for explosives but found nothing, which
suggested that the bomb may have been wrapped in cellophane.
Mr Hucklesby turned out to be right on both counts.
Investigating officers swiftly narrowed the source of the blast to the
bathroom of room 629 and began tracing everyone who had stayed in that room,
including IRA volunteer Patrick Magee.
Magee stayed at the Grand Hotel a month before the conference, using the
name Roy Walsh, and planted the bomb, wrapped in cling film, under the bath.
The device was fitted with a long-delay timer and detonated at 2.54am on
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was still awake, working on her conference
speech, but escaped uninjured.
Magee was given eight life sentences at the Old Bailey in 1986, with a
recommendation that he spend at least 35 years in jail.
He was released under the Good Friday Agreement in 1999.
Mr Hucklesby also played a central role in the probes into the attempted
assassination of Israeli Ambassador Shlomo Argov by members of a Palestinian
splinter group in Mayfair in June 1982; the Libyan embassy siege of April
1984 in which PC Yvonne Fletcher was murdered; and the bombing of the
baggage area at Heathrow Terminal 2 which injured 22.
After retiring from the police in December 1986, Mr Hucklesby joined the
retail conglomerate Sears as a senior executive with responsibility for
group security, and was chairman of the security committee of the Oxford
Street Association. He was a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and
the Royal College of Arts, a Freeman of the City of London and a member of
the council of the British Foundation for the Study of Terrorism.
Mr Hucklesby is survived by his wife Josephine along with their son and