A botched IRA warning call contributed to the deaths of 21 people unlawfully killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, an inquest jury has found.
Two massive detonations caused what one witness described as “pure carnage”, ripping apart the packed Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs on the night of November 21, killing 21 and injuring 220 more.
The 11-member panel, which sat for almost six weeks and deliberated for almost five hours, unanimously concluded an inadequate warning call by the Provisional IRA, which carried out the attacks, cost the stretched police vital minutes.
The six female and five male jurors also determined the victims were unlawfully killed.
They also found there was “not sufficient evidence” of any failings, errors or omissions by West Midlands Police’s response to the bomb warning call, or in regards two alleged tip-offs to the force, giving advanced warning of the blasts.
Qualifying the jury findings in relation to the police’s response, the panel’s foreman told the court: “The decision was based on the balance of the evidence provided.”
The inquests, at the civil courts building in Birmingham, came about after years of campaigning by relatives of the dead for a full account into what happened that night.
The pub bombings were the deadliest post-Second World War attack on the British mainland, until the 7/7 London terrorist attacks in 2005.
A botched investigation by West Midlands Police led to the 1975 convictions of the Birmingham Six, but their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1991.
Julie Hambleton, who lost her older sister in the bombings, said before the hearings that bereaved families wanted “truth, justice and accountability”.