Peter Skeleton QC, Matthew Hill and Gideon Barth have appeared before the Lord Chief Justice in the Court of Appeal in a case arising from the renewed inquests into the Birmingham Pub Bombings of 1974.
The case concerns the breadth of investigation that a coroner must conduct and the inter-relationship between coronial and criminal proceedings.
Peter, Matthew and Gideon are instructed by the Coroner to the renewed inquests, HH Sir Peter Thornton QC. The Coroner had determined that the inquests would not, as a free-standing aim, seek to identify the individuals who carried out the bombings, this being a matter for the criminal courts rather than the inquests. This decision was challenged by some of the families of those who died. They argued that article 2 ECHR required the Coroner to investigate the question of who committed the bombings. Following a High Court decision that was subject to appeal and cross-appeal, the matter has come before the Court of Appeal.
Judgment has been reserved in what is likely to be a significant case in defining, or redefining, the scope of inquests in England and Wales.
Peter, Matthew and Gideon are instructed by Tim Suter of Fieldfisher.
The Birmingham Pub Bombings resulted in the deaths of 21 people who were in or near two busy pubs on a Thursday night in November 1974. The bombings were widely attributed to the IRA. Six men – the Birmingham Six – were convicted of the 21 murders, but were released on appeal 16 years later. The original inquests, which had been adjourned in 1974, were not renewed following the conviction or the release of the Birmingham Six. Further police enquiries led to no further charges. Following a lengthy campaign, the Senior Coroner for Birmingham agreed to re-open the inquests in 2016 on the basis that there was some evidence that the police may have had advance warning of the bombings, which could have led to steps being taken to save lives.
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