‘White­wash’ as coroner re­fuses nam­ing of 1974 pub bomb­ing sus­pects Vic­tims’ fam­i­lies hit out at ‘trav­esty of le­gal process’

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Andy Richards News Editor

THE IRA men who planted the bombs that killed 21 peo­ple in two Birmingham pubs will not be named in new in­quests into the deaths.

For­mer Chief Coroner of Eng­land and Wales Sir Peter Thorn­ton QC has ruled that the iden­tity of the Birmingham pub bombers can­not be within the scope of the hear­ings, de­spite hopes from the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies.

He said it was “not in the public in­ter­est for the in­ves­ti­ga­tions and in­quests to pur­sue un­achiev­able, or in­deed un­law­ful ob­jec­tives.”

Fu­ri­ous fam­i­lies of the vic­tims of the Novem­ber 21, 1974 ter­ror at­tacks said the rul­ing “makes a mock­ery and a white­wash of the in­quests”.

Their lawyers are now ex­am­in­ing the de­tail of Mr Thorn­ton’s 15-page de­ci­sion and are con­sid­er­ing whether to make a le­gal chal­lenge or ap­peal.

Mean­while, the fam­i­lies are de­cid­ing whether to con­tinue to take part in what they de­scribe as “this trav­esty of le­gal process”.

In a for­mal state­ment, ten of the 11 fam­i­lies in­volved – those who be­long to the Jus­tice4the21 cam­paign group – said: “It is with anger and re­gret that we re­ceived to­day the de­ci­sion of the Coroner.

“The Coroner ruled ear­lier this year that the re­sumed in­quests would be com­pli­ant with hu­man rights stan­dards. We un­der­stood this to mean, and our le­gal team at KRW Law ar­gued for, a wide scope to the in­quests.

“This would in­clude the sys­temic fail­ings in the re­sponse of the emer­gency ser­vices and the is­sue of per­pe­tra­tors – who they were, what was known about them be­fore the bomb­ings, who made the bombs and who planted them – and why the bomb­ings led to im­pris­on­ment of the Birmingham Six.

“Fol­low­ing the advice of his coun­sel, and agree­ing with the ar­gu­ments of the West Mid­lands Po­lice, the Devon and Corn­wall Po­lice and the Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion, the Coroner has de­cided that only in cases of in­di­vid­ual deaths will fail­ures of the emer­gency ser­vices be ex­am­ined and that the ques­tion of per­pe­tra­tors is not within the scope of the role of an in­quest.

“Rul­ing out the ques­tion of per­pe­tra­tors – whether named or not – makes a mock­ery and white­wash of these in­quests and con­tra­dicts with the is­sue of per­pe­tra­tors in the Legacy In­quests in North­ern Ire­land.

“Our le­gal team will be ex­am­in­ing this de­ci­sion on scope in or­der to as­sess whether to make a le­gal chal­lenge of some form.

“The fam­i­lies, to­gether with our sup­port­ers in the com­mu­nity, in the me­dia and our local politi­cians and clergy, will be de­cid­ing whether our en­gage­ment in this trav­esty of le­gal process can con­tinue.

“The process will not al­lay the con­cerns of our com­mu­nity, it will not be one in which we can ex­press our right to truth and it will fail us, fail our loved ones and the peo­ple of Birmingham.”

Twenty-one peo­ple died and 182 were in­jured when The Mul­berry Bush in the base of the Ro­tunda, and the nearby un­der­ground bar, The Tav­ern In The Town, were de­stroyed by bombers who have never been brought to jus­tice.

The slaugh­ter hap­pened at the height of an IRA bomb­ing cam­paign on the Bri­tish main­land.

An­nounc­ing his rul­ing, Mr Thorn­ton said: “I am acutely con­scious that many of the fam­i­lies of the de­ceased con­sider that they suf­fer a con­tin­u­ing in­jus­tice.

“Their loved ones died from acts of mass killing and no one per­son has been brought to jus­tice for these crimes.

“It is for this wholly un­der­stand­able rea­son that they wish these in­quests to cover as much ground as pos­si­ble.

“I hope that these in­quests will pro­vide many an­swers about the events of Novem­ber 21, 1974 and those who died.”

But he said he had to state “firmly and clearly” that the hear­ings had to com­ply with both statute and case law.

“It is for all these rea­sons that the in­quests may not achieve, and could not re­al­is­ti­cally achieve, all that the fam­i­lies seek,” he ad­mit­ted.

“That may be dis­ap­point­ing and frus­trat­ing. I un­der­stand that.

“But, even where no in­quests have been held be­fore, and where no per­son has been brought to jus­tice, it is not in the public in­ter­est for these in­ves­ti­ga­tions and in­quests to pur­sue un­achiev­able, or in­deed un­law­ful ob­jec­tives.”

In his re­port he added: “To per­mit the iden­tity of per­pe­tra­tors to be within scope, would be seen as tak­ing on the role, as one coun­sel put it, of a proxy crim­i­nal trial.

“If this were to re­sult in a de­ter­mi­na­tion iden­ti­fy­ing those re­spon­si­ble for the at­tacks, that would in my judg­ment be un­law­ful.”

To per­mit the iden­tity of per­pe­tra­tors to be within scope would be seen as tak­ing on the role of a proxy crim­i­nal trial Sir Peter Thorn­ton

> The Jus­tice for the 21 cam­paign led by Julie Ham­ble­ton, and right, the Mul­berry Bush bomb after the bomb­ings of Novem­ber 21,1974

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.