#OTD in 1997 – The ‘Birmingham Six’ said that they would seek compensation in the European Court after British Home Secretary, Jack Straw said that he would not meet them to reconsider their case.

The six men each received £200,000 compensation (in addition to some interim payments) as compensation for 16 years of wrongful imprisonment. The men were also looking for an apology from the British government and complained for many years that no official ever offered them an apology for their false imprisonment.

Mr Jack Straw apologised, however, the Six remained unhappy that he made no firm commitment to improve their compensation terms and that he declined to meet them. They said they would seek redress in Europe for what they saw as the British government’s failure to compensate them adequately.

Five of the men wrongly convicted for the IRA pub bombing in Birmingham in 1974 and cleared on appeal in 1991 presented a letter to Mr Straw seeking clarification of the British government’s position on compensation. It is understood that the men received £200,000 each and were offered further interim payments of between £50,000 and £250,000.

In a letter to one of the Six, Mr Billy Power, Mr Straw said: “My officials are in touch with your solicitors about the terms of your response, and you will be pleased to know you will receive further interim payments. But I am afraid I think there would be no value in our meeting.”

Mr Straw added: “It is a matter of great regret when there are miscarriages of justice. You wrote that you have never received a proper apology. I believe there has been a miscarriage of justice in your convictions. I am very sorry indeed that this should have happened.”

Mr Power said: “Jack Straw’s apology means very little to us. What we want is a public recognition of the facts. We had nothing to do with the IRA bombings. We want justice. We have suffered enough.”

The letter to Mr Straw indicated that they intended to seek an award from the European courts. The letter stated: “We have been 23 years in litigation with the Home Office. We cannot take any more . . . The offer is derisory, and pours salt on open wounds. It does not begin to reflect the enormity of suffering we and our families have endured over the past 23 years. Unless there is a substantial improvement in the overall offer of compensation, and serious attempts to settle our claim quickly, we intend to go from a judicial review and take our case to Europe.”

The men were unhappy at what they saw as the slow response to complete the compensation payments. Many of them had to move from their homes in Birmingham. Another of the six, Mr Paddy Hill, said: “It is like talking to a brick wall. We are deeply disappointed at the way Jack Straw has approached this so far. They simply don’t want to respond to our case.”

Posted by

Stair na hÉireann is steeped in Ireland's turbulent history, culture, ancient secrets and thousands of places that link us to our past and the present. With insight to folklore, literature, art, and music, you’ll experience an irresistible tour through the remarkable Emerald Isle.