Belfast Telegraph

No new probe into Birmingham pub atrocity branded a 'sham'

donald hale

The Irish president Michael D Higgins is making his visit to England as police investigating the Birmingham pub bombings announced they were not reopening the case.

Relatives of the victims of the 1974 outrages say they are frustrated, furious and extremely disappointed by the controversial decision of West Midlands Police.

Twenty-one people died and 182 were injured in the IRA blasts which led to a spike in anti-Irish tensions.

The decision announced yesterday followed a heated debate with campaigners Julie and Brian Hambleton from the Justice4the21 group, Chief Constable Chris Sims and senior police colleagues, after a major reassessment of the case.

Six people were wrongfully jailed over the bombings on November 21 when three bombs were planted.

At 8.17pm the first bomb exploded at the Mulberry Bush pub where 10 people were killed.

Minutes later, a second device exploded just 50 yards away in the Tavern in the town killing another 11 people.

A third device – the existence of which the police have only just admitted to – failed to explode.

Ms Hambleton arrived for what she described as a long-awaited "make-or-break" date clutching a precious photograph of her teenage sister Maxine who was killed in the bombings.

She was accompanied by her brother Brian and two lawyers.

They faced immediate opposition in the foyer of the city's police headquarters and had to argue over whether they should all be allowed access to the event which led to raised voices and angry exchanges.

Mr Hambleton said: "This force has covered up the bombings for 40 years and we're not standing for it anymore."

He demanded access, saying: "I will block this doorway, I'm telling you.

"Go and sort your masters out now, because I am not moving from here. We have waited a long time for this."

Eventually, the party were invited into the debate and about two hours later emerged angry, disappointed and disillusioned by what they had been told.

Ms Hambleton said: "This is England's biggest unsolved murder of the 20th century.

"We will continue until justice is done. It's exactly as we expected. They are not going to investigate. It's all a sham.

"They treat us like we are cannon fodder. Our loved ones are meaningless to them."

The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police Bob Sims claimed it would be impossible to restart the investigation without new information.

He added however: "It certainly isn't closed."

He confirmed that an investigation carried out between 1991-94 was of a good standard, adding: "Nothing would give me more satisfaction than to bring those responsible for this atrocity to justice. However, we have found no new evidence."

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