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Innocent man jailed over bombings speaks of 'first step' nearer truth

Published 01/06/2016

Paddy Hill, one of the Birmingham Six who were wrongly convicted of the pub bombings

One of the Birmingham Six has hailed a coroner's decision to resume inquests into the 21 victims of the pub bombings as a "first step" to getting "nearer the truth".

Two explosions rocked the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town pubs in the city centre on the night of November 21, 1974, injuring 222 people, in an attack blamed on the IRA.

Senior coroner Louise Hunt on Wednesday ordered inquests into the deaths to be resumed after an hour-long hearing at Solihull, West Midlands.

Paddy Hill, who was jailed alongside five others for life in 1975 before his conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1991, welcomed the ruling.

But speaking on the steps of the court, he said he was "sceptical" the truth about the circumstances surrounding the bombings would come out.

He said: "We will never get justice but I tell you one thing that we can get and that's the one thing we deserve the most: the truth.

"It's not so much me, I know the truth, I want this for the families.

"They have had their whole worlds collapsed twice, once when we got convicted and they had something to focus on - they thought the guilty people were in prison.

"Then we get released and ever since, they've been fighting for this for 20 years."

The former prisoner who spent 16 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, also criticised West Midlands Police.

"I don't think the Birmingham police could spell the word 'truth', never mind tell it.

"They're rotten."

He added: "This is the first step on the road to hopefully getting a bit nearer the truth. Whether we will get the whole truth or not, I'm not sure... I'm very sceptical about that."

Asked by the assembled reporters why he thought the West Midlands force had opposed the families' legal bid for the coroner to resume the inquests, Mr Hill said: "There's too many skeletons in the cupboard.

"They (police) had advanced warning before the bombs went off and they never took any notice and they did not take any steps to prevent it.

"If they had have done, the people that did the bombings would have been caught and convicted. Instead they let it happen and this is the result: 21 innocent people lost their lives and 200 people injured."

West Midlands Police chief constable Dave Thompson said its response to the bombings was "the most serious failing in this force's history".

He added the force will assist the coroner's office in its inquiries.

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