Belfast Telegraph

Families want truth on claim pub bombers have immunity

CHRIS KILPATRICK AND DONALD HAlE

FAMILIES of 21 people killed in an IRA bomb attack will meet police chiefs this week to demand answers to claims the killers were promised immunity.

Relatives of those murdered in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings will quiz senior officers from West Midlands Police.

Paddy Hill (below) of the Birmingham Six, one of six men wrongly convicted of the bombings, said two of five IRA men responsible were among those given the controversial on-the-run letters.

He alleged police knew the identities of those responsible and released two key suspects from custody without charge.

Mr Hill said he was told that of the IRA gang two had died, two were told they were not being pursued, with one given no such assurances.

Crime Commissioner for West Midlands Police Bob Jones called for an urgent meeting with senior officers on the claims. Last night it was revealed the meeting will take place this week.

Mr Jones called for a review of the case following Mr Hill's claims. The move appeared to have caused strife within the force with a spokesman for West Midlands police accusing Mr Jones of "a knee-jerk reaction".

Mr Hill has reiterated his claims regarding alleged failures in the police investigation, saying it was time for "the truth" to be told regarding the bombings.

Mr Hill (68) who now lives in Scotland and is the founder of MOJO – The Glasgow-based Miscarriage of Justice Organisation – said: "It has all gone on long enough.

"We demand to know the truth for the relatives and for the victims of the Birmingham bombings. The families of those who died and were injured have been kept in the dark for too long.

"It's now utter confusion and West Midlands Police need to be honest and give us the facts. Did they know who was responsible and did the Government grant them immunity?"

A police spokesman refused to say whether the West Midlands force knew the identity of the people responsible for the Birmingham bombings, or that they had had two suspects in custody as claimed by Mr Hill.

He said it did not know who had received the controversial letters sent out by the Government but admitted it could have involved some of those responsible.

Nobody has been brought to justice for the killing of 21 and injuring of 182 in Birmingham.

A campaign group of relatives of those killed in the Birmingham attacks – Justice4the21 – held a demonstration at Downing Street on Saturday.

STORY SO FAR

Paddy Hill – one of the Birmingham Six – claimed that two of the five real bombers received 'letters of comfort' from the NIO. Twenty-one people were killed when the IRA placed bombs in two central Birmingham pubs on November 21, 1974. Relatives of victims are enraged at the idea that two of the culprits may have been let off the hook.

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