Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Birmingham Six man Patrick Hill calls for new probe into IRA bombings

Patrick Hill was one of six men wrongly jailed for the murder of 21 people in the Birmingham pub bombings

One of the Birmingham Six has signed a petition demanding that the investigation into the pub bombings be reopened and old evidence be subjected to new forensic tests.

Wrongly jailed for the murder of 21 people in IRA bomb attacks on two pubs in Birmingham in 1974, Patrick Hill spent 16 years in prison until he was finally freed after his conviction was quashed.

He was one of six men who had false confessions beaten out of them by police following the horrific terror attacks.

Along with Hugh Callaghan, Billy Power, Johnny Walker, Richard McIlkenny and Gerry Hunter, he was sentenced to life with no release date on the basis of the admissions.

It was 16 years later, in 1991, that the group finally walked free after the Court of Appeal ruled the forensic evidence that helped convict them was unsafe.

Mr Hill, now aged 66, has added his name to a petition to try and bring to justice those responsible for the bombings, and called on the public to support the campaign, which has been organised by the sister of one of the victims.

He told the Sunday Mercury newspaper he was surprised and disappointed that only a small number of people have so far backed it — especially those in Birmingham.

“I just cannot believe that they have not risen up about the murder of 21 innocent people in their own city,” he said. A total of 21 people were killed and 182 injured on the night of November 21, 1974, when the IRA bombed the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern In The Town.

The Birmingham Six were convicted of murder and conspiracy to cause explosions in 1975.

Nobody has ever been brought to justice for the atrocity.

Mr Hill also said that since their release the group has learned the names of the real bombers, and claimed it was common knowledge among the upper echelons of both the IRA and the British Government.

He has now committed his support to campaigners from Justice 4 the 21, who launched their battle for a new inquiry this year with an online petition, and said he is willing to do anything to get a new investigation.

A total of 10,000 signatures is needed to guarantee that the matter is raised in the House of Commons.

He added it was not just about the Birmingham Six, and said: “Whatever we went through, I can only imagine what kind of torture the families of the 21 victims have had to endure since the bombings.”

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