On 25th February 2019 the Birmingham Inquests 1974, also known as the Birmingham Pub Bombings Inquest, officially commenced. The inquest is looking into the deaths of 21 people who died in or near the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town in central Birmingham on 21st November 1974. It is seen as the worst terrorist attack in Britain before the 7/7 bombings.
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 by the families, 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.
However, the Coroner has 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, a view which has been upheld by the Court of Appeal.
Peter Skelton QC, Matthew Hill, Gideon Barth and Emma-Louise Fenelon are instructed for the Coroner by Tim Suter of Fieldfisher.
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