Eastbourne MP murdered 25 years ago this week

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the murder by the IRA of Eastbourne Conservative MP Ian Gow.


Friends and family will gather on Thursday (July 30) to remember the man who was assassinated in a car bomb attack outside his home in Hankham in 1990.

The 53-year-old politician and solicitor, a close friend of Margaret Thatcher, had been the town’s MP for 16 years.

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He lived at the Dog House in Hankham with his wife Jane and their two sons Charles and James.

Ian Gow SUS-150728-090758001

Ian Gow was brought onto the Conservative front bench in 1978 to share the duties of opposition spokesman on Northern Ireland with Airey Neave and the two men developed a Conservative policy on Northern Ireland which favoured integration of the province with Great Britain.

Through his association with Neave, Mr 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.

He became a close friend and confidante of the Prime Minister and was deeply involved in the workings of Thatcher’s private office. He held junior ministerial office between 1983 and 1985, first as Minister for Housing and Construction and later at the Treasury.

Although aware that he was a potential IRA assassination target, Mr Gow declined to take anything more than routine security precautions.

Ian Gow MP

Unlike most British MPs of that era, he left his telephone number and home address in the local telephone directory.[18] On 30 July 1990 a bomb was planted under Gow’s Austin Montego car in the early hours, which exploded in the driveway of his house in Hankham.

The 4½-lb Semtex bomb detonated at 8.39am as Mr Gow reversed out of his driveway, leaving him with severe wounds to his lower body. He died 10 minutes later.

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

Nobody has ever been brought to justice for the murder.

Ian Gow. July 1990 SUS-150728-110701001

His murder left Eastbourne devastated and thousands of people lined the streets outside his funeral at St Saviour’s and St Peter’s Church in South Street.

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