#OTD in 1991 – The convictions of the Maguire Seven are quashed.

The Court of Appeal overturns the sentences on the Maguire Seven. In 2005, Prime Minister Tony Blair apologised unreservedly for what happened. “I am very sorry that they were subject to such an ordeal and such an injustice. “They deserve to be completely and publicly exonerated.”

Forced (beaten) confessions, contaminated forensic kits, a rush to justice and sloppy police practices ensured that Anne Maguire, her husband Patrick, sons; Vincent 17, Patrick 14, a brother, brother-in-law and a family friend are found guilty of possessing explosives at their London Home and passing them on to the IRA. Anne Maguire received the most severe sentence of fourteen years imprisonment although it could be said her brother-in-law Giuseppe Conlon received a life sentence as he died in prison in 1980 proclaiming an innocence that would not become official until 1991.

The Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven were two sets of people wrongfully convicted for the Guildford pub bombings in the 1970s by English courts and who later had their convictions quashed. The Guildford Four were convicted of bombings carried out by the IRA and the Maguire Seven were convicted of handling explosives found during the investigation into the bombings. Both groups’ convictions were declared unsafe and reversed after they had served extensive time in prison.

On 21 June 2014, Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four died of cancer at home in his native Belfast, aged 60. His lawyer Gareth Peirce, who was with the Conlon family when Gerry died, added her own tribute. She said:

“Once a community has been made suspect en masse every organ of the state will feel entitled, in fact obliged, to discover proof of their suspicions. The example of what happened to Gerry and his entire family should haunt us forever. Sadly these lessons are jettisoned when the next suspect community is constructed.

“Lessons should have been learned. One of the campaigns that Gerry was most strongly articulating at the time of his death was pointing out what is being done to the Muslim community today. He was the bravest of fighters, not just for himself and his family but, by virtue of his victory, he took on the fight for others.

In the preface to Annie Maguire’s book Miscarriage of Justice, Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster writes of Anne Maguire “It was not so much her story, immensely disquieting as this is, but the quality of the lady who was speaking which impressed them. It was her dignity, her evident goodness and the total lack of bitterness which spoke more eloquently than her words. She is, as far as I am concerned, a very exceptional woman whom it has been a privilege to get to know.”

Maguire Seven
Anne Maguire
Patrick Maguire
Patrick Maguire
Vincent Maguire
Sean Smyth
Patrick O’Neill
Giuseppe Conlon

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