I want to see an inquest into Birmingham bombings

Posted By: September 26, 2015

Irish News(Belfast). Monday, September 21, 2015
A man wrongly jailed over the Birmingham pub bombings has thrown his weight behind a campaign for a fresh inquest.

Twenty one people were killed and 182 injured when the IRA bombs exploded in two city centre pubs on November 21 1974.

Paddy Hill and five others – the Birmingham Six – were released after 16 years when their convictions were overturned by the Court of Appeal in 1991.

He has offered lawyers acting for the victims’ families access to more than 200 boxes of previously unseen legal documents.

“I want to see an inquest too. It is the only way we are going to get to the truth of what happened,” Mr Hill said.

“They have done nothing but cover up and lie, lie, lie for over 40 years.

“My solicitor has about 200 boxes of legal files. I kept copies of everything from day one. I kept all the police paperwork and the families can have whatever they want or need.”

An inquest opened days after the bombings at the Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush bars but closed without hearing evidence in 1975 in response to the guilty verdicts.

An application requesting a fresh probe has been lodged with 

Attorney General Jeremy Wright.

Bereaved relatives, who have met Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May and Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers to push for an inquest, are also seeking to challenge the government on claims a disclosure embargo on confidential state files related to the 1974 attacks has been extended to 75 years.

Last year Mr Hill launched an online petition calling for a public inquiry into the Birmingham atrocity.

“We won’t stop,” he said.

Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine Hambleton, above, was killed when a bomb ripped through The Tavern, said: “Paddy Hill has been one of our staunchest 


“This was a man whom the world was told was responsible for the murder of our sister and now we have come to realise that he and the five others were sent to prison for something they did not do.

“Not only has he been one of our greatest supporters, he has helped to open other doors and files. He has made available all of the legal files relating to his case. That’s 200 boxes but he says we can have access to them whenever we want.

“A new inquest is of paramount importance to us because it would provide an opportunity to get truth and justice. We have been blocked with barrier after barrier.

“The Birmingham and Solihull coroner has an excellent reputation for getting truth and justice.”

James Craig (34), right, was the last person to die from injuries sustained in the bombings in December 1974.

His brother Bill Craig, who retired from West Midlands Police in 2001, said an inquest was a crucial element in their quest for the truth.

“I hope the inquest will discover what is behind this conspiracy involving the Birmingham pub bombings,” Mr Hill said.

“Could this tragedy have been prevented?”

Victims’ families are represented by top human rights lawyer Kevin Winters whose firm, KRW Law, is based in Northern Ireland.

“The Birmingham pub bombings 1974 should not be forgotten and the rights to truth, justice and accountability for the relatives of the victims in Birmingham apply just as much to them as to all the victims of the conflict in the north of Ireland,” he said. 

“The application for a resumed inquest is an important step in this move toward a sense of closure for them.

“We have an open door to the coroner for Birmingham and Solihull to assist her in making this important decision on the application.”