Birmingham pub bombings: Court overturns coroner’s ruling

Mulberry Bush
Mulberry BushImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hearings were held days after the bombings but closed without any evidence being heard

A coroner was wrong to restrict the scope of inquests into the Birmingham pub bombings, a court has ruled.

In July, coroner Sir Peter Thornton QC decided the names of the alleged perpetrators would not be part of the framework of new inquests.

But at the High Court on Friday, Mrs Justice Sue Carr said “we will quash the coroner’s decision”.

Twenty-one people died when two bombs were detonated in the city centre in 1974.

Sir Peter has been ordered to reconsider his decision to restrict the scope of the inquests following a judicial review heard by two High Court judges.

In the latest ruling, Mrs Justice Carr and and Lord Justice Simon, said: “We are minded to quash the coroner’s decision which excluded the perpetrator issue and remit the case so as to enable him to reconsider the decision.”

Image caption Twenty-one people died when two bombs were detonated in Birmingham in 1974

Following the hearing, a spokesman for the inquests said: “The coroner is committed to ensuring that the inquests start as soon as possible but now wishes to take some time to consider carefully the judgment handed by the High Court and its impact on the future progress of the inquests.

“The coroner is grateful for the considerable help and assistance he has had from all interested persons in the inquests to date”

A further pre-inquest review hearing is listed for 22 February.

Speaking outside Birmingham Civil Justice Centre, Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine died in the bombings, said: “It is a very positive move forward for us.

“It is one of common sense and one that is logical.

“All we want is the truth.”

Image caption The families of the victims have fought for years to have inquests reopened

BBC Midlands correspondent Phil Mackie, who is at the hearing, said the families of the victims are still angry at having to pay for legal help to get the names released, after being refused legal aid.

They have been fundraising to pay for the judicial review, which cost £40,000.

Justice4the21, the main campaign group representing many of the relatives, said they would “no longer participate” in the hearings following the coroner’s decision last year.

Relatives had argued the inquests could not take place without naming suspects, while their lawyers said discussing potential perpetrators “is central to the case”.

The victims’ families have fought for years to have the inquests reopened. Hearings were held days after the bombings but closed without hearing any evidence.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here