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Birmingham police boss urges PM to unseal pub bombs files

By Don Hale

A Police and Crime Commissioner in England is to ask Prime Minister David Cameron to overturn secrecy orders concealing information about the 1974 IRA Birmingham pub bombings.

West Midlands commissioner Bob Jones will seek to unseal files protected by a 75-year blackout which relate to the way police originally investigated the atrocity that claimed 21 lives and left another 182 people injured.

Mr Jones will ask for information to be made available from a 1993 Devon and Cornwall Police probe into the original investigation, the results of which are due to remain secret until 2068.

The force looked into allegations that the West Midlands Serious Crimes Squad mishandled their investigation of the November 21, 1974 bombings, resulting in the wrongful conviction of the Birmingham Six.

Paddy Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker spent 16 years in prison before being cleared.

After officers from Devon and Cornwall re-examined the case, the then Director of Public Prosecutions Barbara Mills found that there was "insufficient evidence" to prosecute any of the Serious Crime Squad officers. She ordered that all files relating to the case should be locked away for 75 years.

Campaigners from the Justice4the21group recently met with Mr Jones to demand a full public inquiry into the bombings.

He is ready to raise the sealed files issue.

Mr Jones explained: "I'm looking at asking for a request to release the results of Devon and Cornwall report to Barbara Mills."

A spokesman for his office added: "He has so far raised the issue of the Devon and Cornwall investigation with the Chief Constable."

The pub bombings were attributed to the IRA but the terrorists have never officially claimed that they were responsible.

Mr Jones' announcement follows heated scenes at Lloyd House in April when the J421 campaigners were told that the force had decided not to reopen the case into the killings.

The group called on Mr Jones to write to the Prime Minister and Home Secretary after reading that he had asked the Government leaders to inquire into the deaths of Birmingham riots victims Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir.

J421 lead campaigner Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine was killed in the explosions, said she believed he would be writing to call for an inquiry.

"The Devon and Cornwall Police investigation was conducted after the Birmingham Six were released," she said.

"The police thought they had better show some kind of conscience, but this was never completed because they allegedly ran out of money.

"Twenty-one innocent people murdered – and the police ran out of money."

She said her brother Brian and others met with the police commissioner.

"Brian asked Mr Jones if he could do the same for us, " she added.

"He agreed, and has now promised to write to Theresa May and David Cameron, demanding a new inquiry into the pub bombings."

J421 described the original decision not to reopen the case following a two-year review led by Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale as a "farce, a cover-up and a sham".

Gerry Conlon, wrongly convicted of Guildford pub bombings, dies in Belfast aged 60 

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