LABOUR’S Eastleigh by-election hopeful is at the centre of a storm today over revelations that he once wrote of his hopes Margaret Thatcher had been murdered in a terrorist attack.

John O’Farrell told of his “surge of excitement” on hearing of the IRA bomb attack on Brighton’s Grand Hotel in 1984 – adding that was “disappointed” the assassination attempt had failed.

The satirist, aiming to take the seat vacated by shamed Chris Huhne, wrote that he asked himself: “Why did she have to leave the bathroom two minutes earlier?”

It was a reference to the fact Lady Thatcher’s bathroom was destroyed in the explosion, which claimed the lives of five people including Tory MP Sir Anthony Berry.

Mr O’Farrell also wrote that he wished the former Prime Minister had lost the Falklands War in 1982 – a conflict in which 255 British servicemen were killed.

Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Tebbit, whose wife was paralysed in the blast, has described the candidate an ‘incontinently voiced moral reprobate”.

In a book published in 1998, Mr O’Farrell wrote: “I would invent all sorts of elaborate scenarios whereby she would cease to be Prime Minister of Britain. Some involved a sombre deputation from the 1922 Committee (of Tory MPs) and others involved me popping up with a machine gun at the Conservative Party conference.

“In October 1984, when the Brighton bomb went off, I felt a surge of excitement at the nearness of her demise and yet disappointment that such a chance had been missed. This was me – the pacifist, anti-capital punishment, anti-IRA liberal – wishing that they had got her. ‘Why did she have to leave the bathroom two minutes earlier?’ I asked myself over and over again’.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “John made these comments many years ago and of course does not condone or wish harm on anyone.”