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Man Crashes Barriers At Mrs. Thatcher’s Hotel With AM-British Politics

October 10, 1986

BOURNEMOUTH, England (AP) _ A man hurled two bags from a speeding car Friday and crashed into barriers at the hotel where Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was staying, setting off a security alert at the Conservative Party’s annual conference.

Police marksmen at Highcliff Hotel made a split-second decision not to shoot, Dorset Assistant Chief Constable Tony Pointer said.

Officers immediately seized the man, identified as MacDonald Kier Andrew Liddall, 29, from nearby Boole. They blew up the packages, which were found to contain only contain clocks, telephone books and batteries.

A Thatcher spokesman said she was at the hotel at the time and was told what happened.

David Mellor, a deputy minister at the Home Office, said in a radio interview that it appeared to be ″a very stupid stunt.″

Liddall was charged in Magistrates Court with two counts of placing packages to make people think they were likely to explode and cause injury or damage. He was ordered held for a week.

Police said that shortly before 7 a.m. a man threw a parcel outside the Royal Bath Hotel, where many conference delegates were staying, and then drove to the Bournemouth International Center, where the conference was being held, and hurled another canvas bag out the window.

Police said he then drove his red car into two barriers outside the Highcliff Hotel. Pointer said the car did not breach the hotel’s high-security area.

Security at party conferences has been extremely tight since the Irish Republican Army blew up the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the Conservatives’ 1984 conference in an attempt to assassinate Mrs. Thatcher and her Cabinet. Five party members were killed and 31 wounded.

About 100 guests were evacuated from the Royal Bath Hotel, along with 50 people from nearby buildings. The Highcliff was sealed off for hours and many roads were blocked.

But the conference began on schedule and Mrs. Thatcher delivered her speech. The incident was not mentioned at formal proceedings.

Home Secretary Douglas Hurd told reporters, ″It was not a serious attempt, but what he was trying to prove remains to be seen.″

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