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Birmingham Six man Paddy Hill hails 'a step to truth' over inquest resumption

By Alexander Britton

Published 02/06/2016

Julie Hambleton in Solihull yesterday
Julie Hambleton in Solihull yesterday

One of the Birmingham Six has hailed a coroner's decision to resume inquests into the 21 victims of the IRA 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 another 222.

Senior coroner Louise Hunt yesterday 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.

"Then we got 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 what message she had for the IRA killers, Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister was killed in the double bombings, said: "Do the right thing.

"If you have any level of humanity and any moral compass then by rights you should come forward."

Ms Hambleton has for years led the Justice4the21 campaign calling for a new investigation into what happened.

Ms Hunt found the families' claim that police had been protecting a mole in the IRA cell was unfounded, and neither did the emergency services' response that night contribute to the deaths.

But setting out the reasons for her ruling, Ms Hunt said there was evidence that West Midlands Police had missed two potential warnings of the bomb attacks, including a comment made by men linked to the Provisional IRA that "Birmingham would be hit next week".

That overheard conversation was reported to police on November 10, 1974.

But Ms Hunt said there was "no indication that the police took any active steps in response to it".

On the day of the attack a second tip-off by a source identified in court only as "Witness B" to the police was also not followed up, she added.

That person is believed to be the source of what the coroner described as "significant" new information during a review hearing last month.

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

Belfast Telegraph

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