Justice 4 the 21 innocent victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings 21st November 1974
The Birmingham and Solihull Coroner Louise Hunt, wants to hear from "interested persons" to help decide whether to resume inquest into the 21 victims
A coroner will hold special public hearings in the New Year to help her decide whether or not to resume inquests into the 1974 deaths of the Birmingham pub bombing victims.
Senior Coroner for Birmingham and Solihull Louise Hunt has set aside dates in February to hear submissions “from interested persons.”
She is currently considering her powers to resume the inquest into the deaths of the 21 victims as the original inquest was not completed due to the wrongful conviction of the Birmingham Six in 1975,
Mrs Hunt particularly wants to hear from relatives of the victims but also any interested persons for whom the issue remains important.
The murder of 21 victims, who were killed in terrorist bomb explosions at The Tavern in The Town and The Mulberry Bush, remains one of the biggest riddles in British criminal history.
The outrage also left almost 200 seriously injured, some of whom lost limbs or were maimed for life.
The killers, an IRA hit team, avoided detection and six innocent men were wrongly convicted of the crime, which happened at the height of the Provisional’s bombing campaign of the British mainland.
Inquests which were opened were never completed because of the conviction of theBirmingham Six .
The six were eventually released nearly two decades later after several appeals and a campaign which won global support.
Since then, no-one has been brought to justice.
Today a statement from the Coroner said she had received an application from lawyers representing the families of victims Maxine Hambleton , Trevor Thrupp and James Craig to resume the inquest that was adjourned by Coroner Billingham in 1974.
“In order to make a decision the Senior Coroner will hear submissions from interested persons at a hearing starting at 10am on February 10-12 2016.
"If you consider that you are an interested person in these proceedings or require further information contact Lynne Boyle on 0121 303 4274 or firstname.lastname@example.org"
The hearing will take place at the Civic Suite at Solihull Council House and she will deliver her decision at the same venue on February 24.
Last year West Midlands Police said unless any new evidence came to light the case would not be re-opened. It admitted it had lost more than 30 pieces of evidence, including a third bomb which failed to explode on the night of November 21, 1974.
Earlier this year legal representatives of some of the victims’ relatives lodged an application with Attorney- General Jeremy Wright for the inquests to be re-opened and concluded properly. He asked for the opinion of the Senior Coroner.
Today Christopher Stanley of Belfast based human rights law firm KRW LAW LLP, which made the application, said: “We are aware that the Senior Coroner, following our application to her to re- open the inquest into the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974, requires as much information as possible from as many interested persons as possible in order to inform her decision.”
KRW LAW LLP represents the family of Maxine Hambleton, aged 18, who died in The Tavern in Town.
Maxine’s sister and brother, Julie and Brian Hambleton, lead the campaign group Justice4the21 which is seeking the truth behind the blackest night in Birmingham’s history.
Julie Hambleton said: “There are 20 families whose lives were changed forever on that night and they have never been told the truth about what happened. There are many more - the casualties and those who came to their aid on the night - whose lives were changed forever, too.
“The inquests were opened, quite properly, within a week of it happening and then adjourned. They were never resumed after the trial of the Birmingham Six - a trial which later turned out to be a travesty and which led to their wrongful conviction.
“We believe it is only right for the inquest to be re-opened, even after the passing of the years, because it is an opportunity for the truth to be told and a chance for all those left bereaved to find out more about what happened to their loved ones.
“I can only speak for my family, but for us, we cannot move on until we have explored every avenue to try to get to the truth. So we would urge those with a direct interest and those who want to know the truth to contact the coroner.
“We believe that legally and morally we have right on our side and so we must pursue this.”
Paddy Hill, one of the Birmingham Six, said “I fully support the application to resume the inquest into the Birmingham Pub Bombings.
“The families of the victims have received no support since 1974 and now would be the time to ask the difficult questions that need asking – no matter how uncomfortable for all concerned.
“The truth should be out – the families deserve an inquest in compliance with human rights.”