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Birmingham pub bombing inquests set for February

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Birmingham pub bombings

Birmingham pub bombings

Birmingham pub bombings

Full inquests into the deaths of 21 people in the IRA Birmingham pub bombings in 1974 will begin next year.

A pre-inquest hearing held in the city yesterday heard that nine weeks of inquests will start on February 11, 2019 and will include pen portraits of each of the victims.

Judge Sir Peter Thornton QC, who will hear the inquests, was also told that lawyers for some of the bereaved families are seeking footage not broadcast of the ITV Exposure documentary which named two of the alleged bombers.

During the hearing, attended by several of the victims' families, the judge was also told that he may be called on to rule in so-called public interest immunity hearings if evidence is deemed too "sensitive" to be heard in open court.

It had previously been ruled that evidence of any potential involvement in the bombings by a British agent or the existence of an informant should be included in the inquests.

However, following a legal battle, the question of identifying precisely who the bombers were will not form part of proceedings.

Two devastating blasts ripped apart the Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush pubs in Birmingham city centre on the night of November 21.

What became the deadliest terrorist attack in Britain until the London July 7/7 bombings claimed 21 lives and injured more than 220 other people.

A botched investigation by West Midlands Police led to the convictions of the Birmingham Six, who were found guilty of the murders a year later.

But in March 1991 their convictions were overturned after one of Britain's worst miscarriages of justice.

Nobody has ever been brought to justice for the attacks, although it was claimed in the recent ITV documentary by journalist Jon Ware that at least one of those responsible was now dead.

The suspects were named as a former labourer who was a teenager at the time of the atrocity and an ex-British soldier turned IRA terrorist.

James Francis Gavin, the former soldier who is now dead, had been identified before in connection with the Birmingham bombings.

The second man, who now lives in Belfast and is in his 60s, has never previously been named publicly, and he has denied all allegations that he was involved in the atrocity.

Belfast Telegraph