Belfast Telegraph

Birmingham Six man Patrick Hill’s libel payout from poetry publisher

By Elaine Loughlin

It began with a poem dedicated to a man wrongly convicted of a bombing atrocity.

But it ended with a libel payment in a London court.

Patrick Hill from Belfast, who was wrongfully convicted of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, took legal action over a reference to him in the preface to an anthology of verse.

Yesterday he accepted an undisclosed sum and an apology from the publishers.

The case began following the publication of An Anthology Of Modern Irish Poetry which contained the poem British Justice by Pearse Hutchinson which was dedicated to Mr Hill.

In the preface to the edition, editor Wes Davis wrote that Mr Hill was “one of the six men accused, perhaps wrongly,” of the bombings.

Mr Hill spent more than 16 years in prison fighting to prove his innocence after he was wrongly convicted of the murder of the 22 people killed in the blasts.

He was released in 1991 after his conviction was quashed. He also received substantial compensation from the Home Office for his wrongful imprisonment.

At the High Court yesterday Mr Hill’s lawyer, Lucy Moorman told Mr Justice Eady that the use of the word “perhaps” was “extremely damaging to his reputation and credibility” and to the organisation he runs to help victims of miscarriages of justice.

“Mr Hill fought for years to establish his innocence and to rebuild his life and restore his good name,” Mr Hill’s lawyer told the court.

“It is immensely frustrating and distressing for him that such an allegation appears in a book like the Anthology, which is intended to be authoritative and which may well be in circulation for many years to come.”

Lawyers for both the book's publisher, Harvard University Press, and its editor, Wes Davis, issued a full public apology in front of Mr Justice Eady.

They agreed to pay Mr Hill damages and his legal costs and had undertaken that the words would not appear in any future editions.

The Birmingham Six — Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Joseph Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walke — were given a life sentence in 1975 for the Birmingham bombings.

The Court of Appeal overturned all convictions in March 1991.

The six men were later awarded compensation ranging from £840,000 to £1.2m.

Belfast Telegraph

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