BIRMINGHAM 6: World in Action TV - Who Bombed Birmingham? TV - Douglas Hurd - Robert Moyles - 7/7 Crime & Prejudice - Lord Denning - Justice Bridge - Lord Lane - Gerard Hunter - Paddy Hill - Richard McIlkenny - Guardian Unlimited - BBC online - Exposure: The Hunt for the Birmingham Bombers TV -
16,616. These are the faces of the men convicted of Britain’s worst ever terrorist attack: the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974 in which 21 people died. These are the faces of the same men after sixteen years wrongful imprisonment. The gravest miscarriage of justice in living memory. World in Action: The Birmingham 6 Their Own Story 1991
16,617. The release of the six men has led to a royal commission to investigate the criminal justice system in this country. It has also brought calls for the resignation of the Lord Chief Justice – Lord Lane – who refused an earlier appeal. ibid.
16,618. At Morecambe Police States Homes Office pathologist Frank Skuse performed forensic tests on the five men. Dr Skuse believed he had found explosives traces on Power, Hill and possibly Walker. This evidence has since been completely discredited. ibid.
16,619. The men’s ordeal was far from over. They were next taken from their cells to the bath house ... Prison officers were charged with assaulting the six but they were all acquitted at trial. (Miscarriage of Justice & Police) ibid.
16,620. In 1985 a World In Action programme cast doubt on the forensic results. It was discovered that traces of innocent objects like playing cards could be confused with traces from explosives. ibid.
16,621. The IRA didn’t claim credit as they usually did. And the IRA insisted that none of the six men arrested were members. Who Bombed Birmingham? Granada Television March 1990
16,622. On the night of 21st November 1974 two Birmingham public houses were bombed by the IRA. 21 people were killed and 162 injured. ibid.
16,623. Following further independent investigation into the document, World in Action confirmed that five men were responsible for the Birmingham pub bombings: Seamus McLaughlin, known as ‘Belfast Jimmy’, the planner, now living in Ireland; Mick Murray, who phoned the bomb warning, served 12 years for other offences – he is now living in Ireland; James Francis Gavin, alias James Kelly, bomb-maker, now serving life for a subsequent murder in Ireland; the young planter, now living in Ireland, cannot be named for security reasons; Michael Christopher Anthony Hayes, bomb-planter, now living in Ireland. Later he helped to plan further bombings in England: Hyde and Regents Park, 1982, eleven killed; Harrods Department Store, 1983, six killed; The Grand Hotel Brighton, 1984, when the IRA tried to kill the prime minister, five killed. Today the Birmingham 6 are in their 16th year in prison. ibid.
16,624. It took until 1991 for the court system to say, Oops, they had the wrong men. Men who had served for sixteen years. And it took more than another decade for them to get some kind of apology and compensation for all that time in prison. Three detectives were charged with perjury and conspiracy, but their trial was halted in 1993 on the basis of prejudicial news coverage. (Miscarriage of Justice & Police) ibid.
16,625. The safety of these convictions has since been challenged. Notably in two World in Action programmes and in a book published by Mr Chris Mullin in June last year. I have examined all the material with great care. I am satisfied that there is new evidence which will justify my referring this case to the Court of Appeal, and I have now done so. Douglas Hurd, House of Commons statement 20th January 1987, cited Who Bombed Birmingham?
16,626. This is a very disturbing book. At the time at which it was written, it also demonstrated courage and determination by the author and by Granada Television’s World in Action team. With the benefit of hindsight, and knowing now that the convictions of all of those involved in this case have been overturned, the book appears to be a workmanlike exposure of corruption and failure by the police, the forensic science services and by the courts. Dr Robert Moyles, review of Chris Mullin’s Error of Judgement
16,627. They had been beaten up and forced to confess, and a forensic scientist falsely testified they had handled explosives. The police also suppressed evidence that could have exonerated them. 7/7: Crime & Prejudice
16,628. We shouldn’t have all these campaigns to get the Birmingham Six released if they'd been hanged. They’d have been forgotten and the whole community would be satisfied. Lord Denning, Spectator 18th August 1990
16,629. Just consider the course of events if their [the Six’s] action were to proceed to trial ... If the six men failed it would mean that much time and money and worry would have been expended by many people to no good purpose. If they won, it would mean that the police were guilty of perjury; that they were guilty of violence and threats; that the confessions were involuntary and improperly admitted in evidence; and that the convictions were erroneous. That would mean that the Home Secretary would have either to recommend that they be pardoned or to remit the case to the Court of Appeal. That was such an appalling vista that every sensible person would say, ‘It cannot be right that these actions should go any further.’ They should be struck out either on the ground that the men are stopped from challenging the decision of Mr Justice Bridge, or alternatively that it is an abuse of the process of the court. Whichever it is, the actions should be stopped. Lord Denning, Court of Appeal 17th January 1980, dismissing Six’s action against West Midlands rozzers
16,630. Overwhelming evidence. Hon Mr Justice Bridge
16,631. The longer this case has gone on the more convinced this court has become that the verdict of the jury was correct. We have no doubt that these convictions are both safe and satisfactory. The appeals are dismissed. Lord Lane, Courts of Appeal
16,632. What rankles in our case is that it took so long – sixteen years. They’ve known for a long long time that we were innocent. Gerard Hunter
16,633. I was on a train one night. And I got off it. And suddenly I’m plucked out of space and I’m thrown into another world for sixteen and a half years. Paddy Hill
16,634. My ears were bleeding for three days in the inside after this you know. And my eyes were busted about. Head was split. My eyes were busted along. My mouth was busted inside. What a state! (Miscarriages of Justice: Birmingham 6 & Police) Richard McIlkenny
16,635. Paddy Hill, one of the Birmingham Six wrongly convicted of the 1974 IRA pub bombing, has angrily rejected a compensation offer of less than £1 million for the 16 years he spent in jail.
More than 10 years after his release, Hill has received an offer from Home Office officials after an independent assessor calculated that the 56-year-old was entitled to £941,932 for the time he spent in jail and the emotional trauma he endured.
In a letter last month to Hill’s solicitors, the Home Office’s justice and victims unit said the offer would take into account a 10 per cent reduction to cover interest payments on maintenance money Hill received after his release. An MP has described the letter as ‘spiteful’.
Hill said this weekend he was ‘outraged’ by the offer. He believes the sum is considerably less than settlements made to other victims of miscarriages of justice. Guardian Unlimited article 19th August 2001 Nick Paton Walsh Observer
16,636. Twenty years ago the Birmingham Six were freed after their convictions for the murders of 21 people in two pub bombings were quashed.
They had served nearly 17 years behind bars in one of the worst miscarriages of justice seen in Britain.
Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, Johnny Walker, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlkenny and Billy Power strode from London’s Old Bailey on 14 March 1991, their innocence finally proved.
Alongside the men as they left court greeted by cheering crowds and beeping car horns was Chris Mullin, a journalist and MP who had been working towards their freedom since the late 1970s.
‘I was convinced that here were six civilians who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.’ BBC News online 14th March 2011