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Summary

  1. Birmingham pub bombings: Inquests to resume
  2. Birmingham pub bombings: Coroner says there's evidence authorities knew about bombings
  3. Birmingham pub bombings: Police chief says 'no prospect' currently of those responsible being caught
  4. Updates on Wednesday 1 June 2016

Live Reporting

By Alex Homer

All times stated are UK

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The weather for the West Midlands

The weather for the West Midlands.
Keaton Jennings

Durham captain Paul Collingwood and centurion Keaton Jennings earn a four-wicket win against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

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A composite picture of the victims

Peter Taylor

BBC News

Following the decision to reopen the inquests into the 21 deaths in the Birmingham pub bombings, veteran author and journalist Peter Taylor looks back at the political climate of 1974.

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Our coverage across the day

We're back at 08:00 tomorrow with our usual mix of news, sport, travel and weather, but keep an eye out here for updates through the evening and into the morning.

Birmingham historian says high rises 'destroyed neighbourhoods'

The development of high rise tower blocks across the West Midlands "destroyed neighbourhoods", according to a social historian.

Professor Carl Chinn, from Birmingham University, said the pace of housing change in communities during the 1960s was probably too quick.

High rises 'destroyed neighbourhoods' says a Birmingham historian

Professor Chinn made his comments in an interview with presenter Adrian Chiles during the programme Living in '66 - Making the Midlands.

It's on BBC One West Midlands at 19:30 tonight.

Julie Hambleton

Inquests into the deaths of 21 people in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings - one of the worst terrorist attacks in British history - are to be reopened.

Read more

EU Referendum war of words becomes a numbers game

Patrick Burns

Political editor, Midlands

My latest blog post examines the more or less reliable stats being traded between the Leave and Remain campaigns as the final run-up to polling day in the EU Referendum draws near.

Immigration remains front and centre.

So I go in search of some more reliable numbers to shed light on how EU migration affects communities here.

It’s our talking point on this weekend’s Sunday Politics at 11:00 on Sunday on BBC One.

EU and Union Jack flags
Getty Images

Pub bombings victim's son: Inquests 'game-changing'

Paul Thrupp whose father was killed in the Birmingham pub bombings says the decision to resume victims' inquests is a "game-changer" that will help his family "come to terms" with their grief.

Mr Thrupp was in his teens when dad Trevor was killed aged 33.

Son of a Birmingham pub bombings victim says resumed inquests are a 'game-changer'

He said reopening the inquests was "the first step forward for many years".

"The whole process for the family in terms of coming to terms with our grief will be aided by the reopening of the inquests."

Coming up on TV

The families of those who died in the Birmingham pub bombings say the Senior Coroner's decision to re-open the inquests is momentous.

They believe there's much we don't know about the bombings, much that remains hidden - perhaps deliberately - by the authorities. And these fresh inquests they see as a chance to get answers, and even some kind of justice. 

Join us for the Midlands Today on BBC One at 18:30 for more on this story.

Birmingham pub bombings: West Midlands Police's 'biggest failing'

The chief constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson, says "falsification of evidence" and the perpetrators of the Birmingham pub bombings not being caught is the "biggest failing in the force's history".

Speaking after a coroner's decision to resume inquests into the deaths of 21 people more than 40 years after the attacks that claimed their lives, Mr Thompson said a lack of evidence meant the force was unable to find those responsible. 

He said the focus of the coroner's investigation was whether there was anything West Midlands Police could have done to prevent "this terrible outrage". "I support an open and transparent approach to examining that."

Birmingham pub bombings: West Midlands Police's 'biggest failing'

Watch: Latest weather forecast for the West Midlands

Into this evening the rain eventually dies away. Lows of 9C (48F).

It will become drier from tomorrow. Find out more.

Afternoon weather forecast for the West Midlands

Birmingham pub bombings: Victims' families have been 'lied to for decades'

Marc Reeves, editor of the Birmingham Post and Mail, has said today's ruling to resume the inquests for the victims of Birmingham's pub bombings is "not a victory in itself" but he hopes the process will allow victims' families the chance to move on.

He said: "This is is about truth and clarity for the 21 because frankly over the past 40 years they have been lied to."

Marc Reeves, editor of the Birmingham Post and Mail
BBC

England in 1966: Racism and ignorance in the West Midlands

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

Fifty years ago a groundbreaking documentary shone a spotlight on to a West Midlands town as racial tensions reached boiling point. Two years on from arguably the most racist election campaign in British history, people were continuing to shun their new black and Asian neighbours.

Smethwick, in 1966, was a community divided. Landlords would not let their houses to them. Churches closed their doors to well-dressed families, so as not to upset the white congregation.

Two men walking along a bridge through Smethwick
BBC

And - as a 1966 BBC documentary showed - even haircuts were off limits as racist barbers refused to let immigrants into their salons.

The programme, Smethwick: A Straw in the Wind, highlighted the attitudes of people who were furious at the influx of the thousands of foreigners who had travelled over to the Midlands to find work in factories.

Latest: Pub bombings inquests to resume; campaigner calls decision 'seismic'; 'new evidence' to be publicly shared

Here's a round-up of the main developments in the pub bombings story:

- The inquests into the deaths of 21 people are to be resumed more than 40 years after the bombings that claimed their lives

- Campaigners have called the decision 'seismic'

- Senior Coroner Louise Hunt said there was evidence the authorities knew in advance about the bombings 

Aston Villa: Dr Tony Xia's takeover of club not in doubt

Pat Murphy

BBC Midlands football reporter

Aston Villa's takeover by Chinese businessman Dr Tony Xia is not on the verge of collapse.

It has been reported that Xia has failed to demonstrate he possesses the necessary funds to complete the deal.

But BBC Sport has learned £52m has been paid into an escrow account, ready to be transferred to current Villa owner Randy Lerner.

Villa Park
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Birmingham pub bombings: Force will be 'held to account' on pledge to support renewed inquests

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner says the force will be held to account on pledges to co-operate with the inquests.

David Jamieson said: "I sincerely hope the inquests brings the answers the families of the victims have been seeking.

"The Chief Constable has assured me West Midlands Police will co-operate fully with the inquests and I will hold the Chief Constable to account to deliver on that assurance.

"West Midlands Police had no principled objection to the resumption of the inquests. That was a position I supported."

Fight against the development of Sutton Coldfield Green Belt continues

Sutton Coldfield Local

Birmingham City Council plans to build up to 6,000 new homes on the Sutton Coldfield Green Belt have been put on hold by a government housing minister.  

Birmingham pub bombings: The full toll

The Birmingham pub bombings - the worst terrorist attack on the British mainland until the London 7/7 atrocities - left 182 injured and, pictured here, 21 dead.

A composite picture of the 21 victims
BBC

Birmingham pub bombings: Campaigner talks of 'seismic' decision

A campaigner who lost her sister in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings has described a decision to resume inquests into 21 deaths as 'seismic'.Julie Hambleton, who has led calls for a public inquiry into the attacks, was 11 when her 18 year old sister, Maxine, was killed while handing out party invitations in a pub.

Decision to resume Birmingham pub bombing's inquest is 'seismic'

'Accelerant' poured through letterbox at home of woman and her daughter

A 75-year-old woman and her daughter were caught in a burning house after "accelerant" was poured through their letterbox, the fire service said.

Crews rushed to the property following the suspected arson attack at a property in Riches Street, Newbridge, Wolverhampton shortly before 03:00. They found the pensioner and her 50-year-old daughter trapped in a bedroom.

Both were taken to hospital for precautionary check-ups after breathing in smoke.  

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Q&A: Birmingham pub bombings inquests to reopen

Many of the families regard the inquests as their last chance to find out exactly what happened on the night of 21 November, 1974.

Six men were convicted and then acquitted of the atrocity and no-one has since been convicted of involvement in the bombing, which is widely attributed to the IRA.

The move to reopen the inquests follows a campaign by the Justice 4 the 21 campaign group, led by family members of victims.  

Find out more.

Ex-IRA man: Birmingham pub bombers will never be convicted

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

The IRA's former director of intelligence has said the men who bombed Birmingham in 1974 will never be convicted.

Kieran Conway, who now works as a lawyer in Dublin, said the bombers would never hand themselves over to British police.

In an interview with the BBC, he said he was "absolutely shocked and appalled" by the bombings, which had not been sanctioned by the IRA leadership.  

A total of 21 people died in two city centre pubs on 21 November 1974.

Ex IRA man: Birmingham pub bombers will never be convicted

Cricket: Edgbaston wins five fixtures for 2017 Champions Trophy

Nick Clitheroe

BBC Midlands Today

The fixtures for the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy have been announced. Warwickshire's home ground Edgbaston has five matches, including four group games and a semi-final.

On 2 June, New Zealand face Australia in a day-night game and on 4 June India face Pakistan in one of the game's great rivalries.  

On 7 June South Africa play Pakistan in a day-night game and on 10 June it's England against Australia. The semi-final is on 15 June.  

Edgbaston
Getty Images

Coming up on TV

Giles Latcham

BBC Midlands Today

I'll have all the latest on the decision to resume inquests for the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings.

Join me on BBC One for the Midlands Today at 13:30.

Birmingham pub bombings: 'Cover-up' claims by wrongly convicted man

A man wrongly convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings says a decision to reopen inquests into the deaths is a first step to finding the truth.

Belfast man Paddy Hill was convicted along with five other people of the 1974 bombings which killed 21 people. Those convictions were quashed in 1991.

He accused the "judiciary, the government and the Birmingham police" of "a massive cover-up".

Pub bombings: 'We deserve the truth'

Birmingham pub bombings: No prospect currently of finding the culprits - police chief

More on the Birmingham pub bombings.

West Midlands Police's chief constable Dave Thompson has said currently he cannot see those responsible being brought to justice.

He said: “Since 2012 and directly as a result of the campaign by families of those who died we have carefully reassessed the opportunities to bring the people responsible to justice. 

"Despite an intense scrutiny we have not been able to see, at this time, a prospect of doing this. That has been an authentic and painstaking search for the truth.

“We have not nor will not close this investigation."

Birmingham pub bombings: Families and campaigners 'refused to give up'

Councillor John Clancy, leader of Birmingham City Council, has credited the "persistence" of the victim's families and campaigners for today's decision to reopen inquests for the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings.

He said: "They've refused to give up and deserve to know exactly what happened on that tragic night back in 1974. Their fight continues but this is a momentous step in the right direction."

Birmingham pub bombings: West Midlands Police 'supports the resumption of inquests'

West Midlands Police's chief constable Dave Thompson said the force "supported“ today's decision.

He said: "The Birmingham pub bombings of 1974 are one of the most serious terrorist attacks in the UK. West Midlands Police not only failed to catch those responsible but caused a miscarriage of justice. I have said and reiterate again, it is the most serious failing in this force's history."

He added: “West Midlands Police will support this inquiry as we have done through the recent hearings by the Coroner which determined whether the inquest should re-open. I hope the new inquest provides answers to families."

Birmingham pub bombings: 'Anything is possible' after today's decision

Kathryn Stanczyszyn

Political Reporter, BBC WM

The families are not yet sure what the reopening of inquests means for the future, but Julie Hambleton hoped there would be no attempt to appeal today's decision.

View more on twitter

Birmingham pub bombings: The truth is 'fundamental'

The families of the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings have been reacting to this morning's development.

Campaigner Julie Hambleton (pictured top), whose 18-year-old sister Maxine (pictured bottom) died in the attacks, said: "The truth is fundamental.

"Like Hillsborough they have the truth and now they want accountability.

"That is how we see our line of inquiry." 

Julie Hambleton
BBC
Maxine Hambleton was 18 when she was killed in the 1974 bombings
BBC

Birmingham pub bombings: How the atrocity unfolded

Today's ruling by Birmingham's Senior Coroner Louise Hunt follows years of campaigning by relatives of those who lost their lives after bombs detonated in Birmingham on 21 November, 1974.

This is how the atrocity unfolded that day:

- At 20:17 GMT a bomb exploded in a duffel bag in the Mulberry Bush pub in the Rotunda, Birmingham, killing 10 people

- Ten minutes later, at 20:27, a second bomb went off in the Tavern in the Town, killing 11 more and injuring 182

- A third bomb outside a bank on Hagley Road failed to explode

Firemen survey the damage outside the Birmingham pub, "Tavern in the Town", after an IRA bomb blast.
Wesley/Keystone/Getty Images

Birmingham pub bombings: 'First step on the road to truth'

Paddy Hill, one of the so-called Birmingham Six, the men whose convictions for the bombings were quashed, has reacted to the announcement the inquests for the 21 victims will resume.

He said this was "the first step on the road to hopefully getting a bit nearer the truth".

"Whether we get the whole truth or not, I'm not so sure."

Paddy Hill today
BBC
Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, Johnny Walker, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlkenny and Billy Power were wrongly convicted of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings
West Midlands Police

Pub bombings inquests to resume: Outcome may be inconclusive

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

Amid the coroner's ruling that the inquests will reopen more than 40 years later, a note of caution was sounded: The outcome of the inquests may yet be inconclusive.

Pub bombings inquests to resume: The families 'looked almost stunned'

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

It will take time to get all the evidence together for an inquest. The secret service and others involved have been asked to hand over what [evidence] they have.

There will be further hearings for evidence to be gathered.

Looking at the families when the ruling was made, they looked almost stunned.

25th November 1974: Wreckage and debris litter the street outside the "Mulberry Bush" public house in Birmingham, after it was bombed by the Provisional IRA
Evening Standard/Getty Images

Birmingham pub bombings: Enough evidence to resume inquests

Kathryn Stanczyszyn

Political Reporter, BBC WM

Birmingham's Senior Coroner Louise Hunt said she had heard enough evidence over the past six months that warranted being put into the public domain.

There was emotion from the families as she made her ruling.

She said there was evidence the authorities knew there was going to be some kind of bombing in Birmingham.

She said, although that was not completely conclusive, there was evidence authorities were warned on two separate occasions and that was enough to reopen the inquests nearly 42 years later.

Pub bombing inquests to resume: Victims' deaths 'can be explained'

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

"It is still possible to ascertain how the 21 came to their deaths" the coroner says.  

Birmingham pub bombings: 'Wealth of evidence' should be heard publicly

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

The coroner says there's a wealth of evidence still available that's not been seen before.

She says it now needs to be heard publicly.