1974 – Bombs planted by the Provisional IRA devastate two central Birmingham pubs, killing 21 people and injuring over 180.

Two bombs set by the Provisional IRA devastated pubs in Birmingham cause the deaths of 21 people. The Provisional IRA planted bombs in two pubs: The Mulberry Bush bomb was followed minutes later by a bomb in the nearby Tavern in the Town. The IRA had phoned a warning twelve minutes before the first bomb went off, but the bombs went off as police were trying to clear the pubs. One of the ironies of the murderous attack was that a number of the victims were second-generation Irish.

A rush to justice by British authorities saw the unwarranted conviction of ‘The Birmingham Six’: Hugh Callaghan, Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, Billy Power, and Johnny Walker, who were found guilty in 1975 of carrying out the bombings. Their convictions were overturned by the Court of Appeal in May 1991. The real bombers have never been identified or prosecuted although journalist, Chris Mullin, in his book ‘Error of Judgment – The Truth About the Birmingham Pub Bombings’, claims to have met some of them.

At the conclusion of the 1994 investigation, the Director of Public Prosecutions implemented a 75-year public-interest immunity certificate on documents relating to the Birmingham pub bombings—effectively preventing any release of documents relating to the reinvestigation until 2069. This court order forbids the disclosure of this evidence to the public as any disclosure would be deemed as damaging to the public interest.

Following a 2014 meeting held at the West Midlands Police headquarters to discuss the findings of a two-year reassessment of all available evidence connected with the original 1974 inquiry, campaigners within Justice for the 21 were formally told that unless “new and significant information” was forthcoming, there would be no further inquiry into the Birmingham pub bombings. At this meeting, the Chief Constable of the West Midlands did inform the campaigners that 35 pieces of evidence from the original 1974 inquiry were now missing, including the bomb which had been discovered at Hagley Road and safely destroyed in a controlled explosion.

Both Patrick Hill and the families of those killed in the Birmingham pub bombings remain united in their efforts to overturn the 75-year public interest immunity order imposed in 1994, and have publicly demanded the British Government order the release of all government, police, and crown papers related to the case. In reference to the public interest immunity order, a spokeswoman for the Justice for the 21 campaign group commented in 2014:

Patrick Hill clarified the details of this and the significance of this in relation to the truth being known. With reference to the kind of information that is hidden in these files, it’s anyone’s guess. But, for us, knowing that they [the files relating to the Birmingham pub bombings] have been locked away for so long, only adds weight to our argument that the government and the police do not want this information to be known until we are all dead. Why do you think that might be? What do they have to hide and who are they protecting?



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