POLICE have said they fear copy cats could try to wreak havoc with further bomb hoaxes.

Sussex Police said last night they were still hunting the hoaxer who forced hundreds of people to take shelter for five hours on Sunday night.

Both police and The Grand insisted that the anonymous call to the hotel had to be taken serious and that the decision to close off a square mile of the city centre was not taken lightly.

The force said it could not disclose any further details about its security measures following the bomb scare as concerns turned to the Labour party conference which starts next Sunday.

A force spokesman said: “Hoax threats are very infrequent and as a general rule we seek to avoid publicity for them as it can have the effect of encouraging other such calls.

“We ask news media to consider where possible not publicising them for that reason, and we are grateful for any such voluntary co-operation.

“However, there can be occasions on which the nature of the emergency services response that is required, and the disruption caused, can make publicity unavoidable.

“Each incident is assessed on its individual merits, and procedures are followed, working with other emergency services and the occupants of the premises involved, adapted to the circumstances.

“The decision to evacuate is a matter for the management of the site, but police and other emergency services will give advice based on professional experience and knowledge, and will work with the management to resolve the situation.

“The Brighton Centre was evacuated not because it was the alleged target but because it shares an adjoining wall with the hotel, and could potentially have been affected in the event of an explosion.

“Security measures are kept under regular review but we do not discuss the detail of planning for individual events or sites.

“In this case we worked closely with the management of the affected premises throughout and we are very appreciative of their professional and measured response.”

Grand general manager Andrew Mosley said it was the “right thing” to evacuate the hotel.

He said: “The safety of our customers is paramount.

“Above all else that’s the number one most paramount important thing.

“We did the right thing.

“We reopened between 9.30pm and 10pm and Monday has been business as usual.

“I am extremely proud of my team, the entire team who were on duty.

“We had to take the steps we took. It was definitely the right call, of course it was. And I think most people would agree with me on that.

“With events like the Labour party conference police will dictate arrangements and we will work closely with them.

“Our internal practices are also pretty robust and we review them regularly to make sure they are right. “I think Sunday showed they are.”

Chief Superintendent Lisa Bell said: “A comprehensive criminal investigation is underway to trace the person responsible for the call. Certain lines of enquiry are being actively followed.”


TWELVE hours on from the bomb scare, Brighton seafront could not have been more different.

On Sunday night an eerie silence fell on the city centre – just the sound of police tape flapping in the wind as hundreds waited anxiously.

Police, conference delegates, people scurrying home from a day’s shopping on Sunday evening left the city centre in virtual silence.

Shocked looks on their faces as the words “Grand” and “bomb” crossed their lips.

By Monday morning the storm had cleared.

The sun was out and cars, shoppers, suited conference delegates and taxi driving unionists had returned to the front.

Anyone visiting the city yesterday morning would have had no idea of the drama the night before.

No police officers were visible on the seafront.

No extra security seemed to be operating at the packed conference centre. No trace of the blue and white tape that had covered a square mile the night before.

Even with the danger over – although there was no real threat if it was indeed a hoax – the evening brought back memories of another autumnal night.

In 1984 the sound of the IRA bomb that shook The Grand echoed across the city.

Hotel general manager Andrew Mosley said: “We don’t need an occasion like Sunday to reflect on 1984.

“We are always reflecting on it.”

Those working behind the scenes were preparing for the worst.

Conference delegates left quickly and quietly – they did not want to hang around, their footsteps were hurried.

Guests and staff from The Grand took shelter at the Metropole.

Staff unable to go home tried to keep catering for the guests of two of the city’s biggest hotels.

One member of the Metropole kitchen staff told The Argus: “It was absolutely manic.

“People were rushing about all over the place and no one could leave until 10.30pm.

“You could tell everyone was pretty worried.”

Mr Mosley added that the two rival hotels had worked “fantastically” together.

He said: “As businesses we are competitors but we are also neighbours with strong mutual respect.”

However, some people questioned online whether the police response had been over-zealous, making reference to a bomb scare in Peacehaven last week which turned out to be an old fuel tank.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “It was important that this report was thoroughly looked in to and we are grateful for the patience and understanding of staff, guests, and people using the nearby car parks, whose afternoon and evening was disrupted.”

Whilst the online comments may be dismissive of the threat, the fear was very real.

One West Street doorman yesterday told The Argus: “We work very closely with the police and I feel pretty sure they wouldn’t have taken those steps lightly.

“You can’t take a risk with something like that.

“I think people would rather have an evening disrupted than lose their lives.

“The Brighton bomb is something no one in this city can ever escape the memory of.

“When the political parties come down and all the barriers go up you know it’s because of that history.”

IRA bomber Patrick Magee checked in to The Grand a month before Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet.

He left his bomb on a timer to explode at 2.54am on October 12, 1984.

Sir Anthony Berry, then MP for Southgate, Eric Taylor, North West area chairman of the Conservative Party, Lady Jeanne Shattock, Lady Muriel Maclean, and Roberta Wakeham, were all killed.

Patrick Magee was convicted of five counts of murder but released under the Good Friday Agreement.

He returned to the city for an event about conflict resolution during Brighton Fringe in 2015.

It sparked fury from, among others, former Tory minister Norman Tebbit whose wife was left paralysed by the attack.