Birmingham pub bombings: Call to reopen investigation

Maxine Hambleton Maxine Hambleton was one of 21 people killed in the bombings

A call to reopen the investigation into the Birmingham pub bombings is being considered by the prime minister.

Relatives of some of the 21 people killed in the bombings have compiled a dossier of their case, which is being read by David Cameron.

Nearly 40 years after the attack, the family of one of the victims, Maxine Hambleton, are campaigning for the case to be reopened.

A spokesperson for the prime minister confirmed he had received the report.

'A kind of limbo'

The bombings took place at two pubs - The Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town - on 21 November 1974.

Twenty-one people were killed when terrorists blew up two Birmingham pubs in 1974

Miss Hambleton, described as "kind, full of life and funny" by her family, had gone to the Tavern in the Town on the night of the attack, which left 182 people injured.

It is still not known who was behind the bombings.

Six men from Northern Ireland, known as the Birmingham Six, who were convicted of the attack in 1975, were freed by the Court of Appeal in 1991, after their convictions were ruled unsafe.

Now the family of Miss Hambleton, who was 18 when she died, are working together with one of the Birmingham Six, Paddy Hill, to campaign for the case to be reopened.

"If [the police] did everything that was humanly possible, how come the perpetrators are still out there with their liberty?" said Julie Hambleton, Maxine's sister.

"It's very very hard... I'm stuck in a kind of limbo," added her brother Brian. "I've always had the sense that the people in power thought we would go away.


  • Two bombs exploded, killing 21 people, in November 1974
  • Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, Johnny Walker, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlkenny and Billy Power were jailed for life in August 1975
  • The case was referred back to the Court of Appeal, but the convictions were upheld in 1988
  • The convictions were quashed at London's Old Bailey in March 1991

"But we are still here and we won't go away. I will be fighting this until the day I die."

The Hambletons have met Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, who passed their dossier to David Cameron earlier this year.

He told the BBC: "There's every reason there should be an investigation."

Evidence is also being reviewed by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit. A previous police investigation closed in 1994, with no prosecutions.

Marcus Beale, assistant chief constable, said: "We have been gathering together all the material from the investigations in 1974, the latter investigations in the late 80s and the further work that was done in the 90s by West Midlands Police.

"We'll go with reinvestigating if that's the right thing to do."

  • For more on this story, watch Who Murdered Maxine? on Monday 18 November at 19:30 GMT on BBC One or on BBC iPlayer.

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