Belfast Telegraph

Birmingham bomb families' fury as police reject fresh probe

BY DONALD HALE

Relatives and campaigners for the victims of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings have called for a full public inquiry following the decision by West Midlands Police not to re-open the case – claiming the inquiry was a "farce, a sham and a complete cover-up".

The campaigners are also concerned that despite finally admitting the existence of a secret third bomb that had failed to explode – previously denied for 40 years – police now claim to have lost it along with 35 important exhibits.

Chief Constable Chris Sims made the controversial announcement after a heated debate with Julie and Brian Hambleton from Justice4the21 campaign group.

The IRA atrocity also led to the Birmingham Six to be wrongfully jailed for 16 years.

Julie insisted: "We are demanding a full public inquiry that compels witnesses to give evidence. It would also give victims and survivors the opportunity to discuss how their loss has affected them and how the ongoing farce over the on-the-run letters has further embedded their grief."

The Hambletons lost their teenage sister Maxine in the blasts which killed 21 people. The police chief said it would be impossible to restart an investigation without new information. Recent police statements have not referred to accusations that West Midlands Police may have known the identity of five IRA suspects, or that immunity letters may have been sent out.

"The case certainly hasn't been closed," said a spokesman. "We still have loose ends to tie up."

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