Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham pub bombings: Lawyer renews call for inquests

Firefighters outside remains of Tavern in the Town pub Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The two bombs went off 10 minutes apart in pubs a few yards from each other

A lawyer for the family of one of the 21 people killed in the Birmingham pub bombings is calling for inquests to be held for the victims.

There have been no inquests since two bombs exploded at the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town in November 1974, which also injured 182 people.

Human rights lawyer Kevin Winters said he will be writing to West Midlands Police and the relevant coroner.

Inquests would allow access to certain material never before disclosed.

Six men, later dubbed the Birmingham Six, were jailed in 1975 but their convictions were quashed in 1991.

Families of the victims have criticised police, accusing them of withholding information over the years and say 40 years on from the bombings they still do not have the answers they need.

Calls for a fresh investigation into what happened were denied by West Midlands Police in April.

Speaking exclusively to BBC Radio WM ahead of the 40th anniversary next week, Mr Winters, who has represented families of victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, said inquests would have been put off because of legal proceedings against the Six but "uniquely we now know the wrong people were put behind bars."

Image caption Twenty-one people were killed when bombs exploded at the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town on 21 November 1974

Brother and sister Julie and Brian Hambleton, who lost their sister Maxine in the bombings, have been leading a campaign to try to find out more about what happened.

Ms Hambleton, who met Mr Winters this week to ask him to represent them, said she does not understand why inquests have never been held, even after 1991.

"Why hasn't anyone stepped up before now and said anything?," Ms Hambleton said.

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Julie Hambleton said she feels she has not been given the answers she needs about her sister's death

As well as establishing inquest hearings, Mr Winters said he would be pursuing several others avenues of action.

This may include action against authorities under European Human Rights legislation, looking at "serious issues" about the previous flawed West Midlands Police investigation and within that "the deliberate peddling of the view that they had caught the perpetrators".

Image caption Human rights lawyer Kevin Winters has been asked to represent the Hambletons

"There's an on-going duty on behalf of the authorities, and especially West Midlands Police, to actually get to the bottom of what happened," Mr Winters said.

"These families have received a very poor service in terms of justice and truth and closure - they've got nothing near it at all."

He said the families also had no recourse to remedies available to those affected by the Troubles in Ireland.

Inquests would provide families with access to certain "disclosure materials" that he said had been kept from them.

"In my view, and our view, there is a basis for an inquest and we're now going to be writing to West Midlands Police and the relevant coronial services in England through our agencies in London to invite a new inquest."

In response, Chief Constable Chris Sims said: "Nothing would give me more satisfaction than to bring those responsible for this atrocity to justice.

"However, we have found no new evidence that would assist us in bringing anyone to justice for the pub bombings.

"It is always possible that brand new and significant information could become available to us.

"Let me be clear - this case is not closed."

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