Min­is­ter quiet on pub bomb­ings le­gal aid plea

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

THE Gov­ern­ment has ig­nored pleas to en­sure Birm­ing­ham pub bomb­ing fam­i­lies have fund­ing for a vi­tal court case to help un­cover the truth about the 1974 ter­ror­ist at­tack.

MPs from all par­ties took part in a House of Com­mons de­bate and urged the Gov­ern­ment to en­sure fam­i­lies of the 21 vic­tims re­ceived fund­ing so they could be prop­erly rep­re­sented at a Court of Ap­peal hear­ing.

But Jus­tice Min­is­ter Lucy Frazer, re­spond­ing on be­half of the Gov­ern­ment, sim­ply in­sisted: “This is a de­ci­sion of the Le­gal Aid Agency in­de­pen­dent of min­is­ters”.

She was asked by Birm­ing­ham MP Richard Bur­den (Lab, North­field) to find some other way of sup­port­ing the fam­i­lies if le­gal aid was not avail­able. He pointed out that the rel­a­tives of those killed in the 1989 Hills­bor­ough dis­as­ter re­ceived Home Of­fice fund­ing to en­sure they had rep­re­sen­ta­tion at hear­ings.

But in her re­sponse, Ms Frazer sim­ply did not ad­dress this point at all.

The Min­is­ter was chal­lenged out­side the hear­ing by rel­a­tives of the pub bomb­ing vic­tims.

Julie Hambleton, a spokesper- son for the Jus­tice4the21 cam­paign group, whose elder sis­ter Max­ine was one of the bomb­ing vic­tims, told her: “We are not sec­ond class cit­i­zens.

“Birm­ing­ham lives mat­ter, just like Hills­bor­ough lives mat­ter, just like Gren­fell lives mat­ter.

“We are meant to live in an equal so­ci­ety.”

The fam­i­lies have been de­nied le­gal aid for their bid to en­sure the peo­ple sus­pected of car­ry­ing out the 1974 bomb­ings can be iden­ti­fied.

Coroner Sir Peter Thorn­ton, who is over­see­ing the in­quest, has ruled that sus­pects can­not be named.

He wants to ex­clude the per­pe­tra­tors from the scope of the in­quest which means it will avoid is­sues such as who bombed Birm­ing­ham, who or­gan­ised the bomb­ing, who or­dered it, who made the bombs, who planted them and who their as­so­ciates were.

The fam­i­lies con­tested that rul­ing at the High Court and won. The coroner re­sponded by tak­ing the case to the Court of Ap­peal, where the fam­i­lies will have to fight their corner again but they have been told they can­not re­ceive fund­ing for le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

In prac­tice, it places them at a huge dis­ad­van­tage. A to­tal of 21 peo­ple died and al­most 200 were in­jured when IRA bombers at­tacked city cen­tre bars The Mul­berry Bush and The Tav­ern in The Town on Novem­ber 21, 1974.

Mr Bur­den had asked for a House of Com­mons de­bate so that MPs could make the case for pro­vid­ing the fam­i­lies with fi­nan­cial sup­port.

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The wreck­age of the Mul­berry Bush pub in Novem­ber 1974

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