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Birmingham blasts families frustrated by funding delay

Julie Hambleton, centre, said the Justice4the21 campaigners were disappointed after the meeting with the Home Secretary. Credit: PA

Relatives of victims of the Birmingham pub bombings have expressed their frustration after Home Secretary Amber Rudd delayed a decision to fund their legal teams at forthcoming inquests into the 1974 killings.

Families of nine of the 21 victims met with Ms Rudd and had expected a positive response to their call for urgent funding, with their legal teams so far working pro bono.

"I feel quite devastated," said Paul Bodman, whose father Stanley was among those killed in the double IRA blasts. "We didn't get anything like what we wanted, did we?"

Julie Hambleton, who lost her 18-year-old sister Maxine, said "obviously we are frustrated and disappointed (as) the meeting did not produce the expected results".

But she added: "A line of communication has now been opened where (Ms Rudd) has informed us that she will make a decision by no later than the end of this month."

A Home Office spokeswoman said the Home Secretary's decision about funding legal costs will be announced in due course.

A pre-inquest review into the bombings is due in October but a full inquest is not expected to get under way until next year.

Pub bombings inquests 'will be another Hillsborough'

Bill Craig, at his home in Yardley, Birmingham. Credit: PA Wire

Ex-West Midlands Police officer Bill Craig, whose 34-year-old brother James died in the attacks, said he believed the pub bombings investigation would be "another Hillsborough".

"It's very complex, and it'll be a long process, but in the end this will end up as another Hillsborough."

Police support new Birmingham pub bombing inquests

The wreckage left at the underground Tavern. Credit: PA Wire

West Midlands Police have said the force will support the new inquests and admitted the botched investigation into the Birmingham pub bombing was "the most serious failing in this force's history".

New inquests are to be held into the deaths of 21 people who were killed in the Birmingham pub bombings in Birmingham City Centre in 1974.

The Birmingham Pub Bombings of 1974 are one of the most serious terrorist attacks in the UK.

West Midlands Police not only failed to catch those responsible but caused a miscarriage of justice.

I have said and reiterate again, it is the most serious failing in this force's history.

It is almost 42 years since these events. I understand families of those who lost their lives are frustrated, disappointed and angry.

– Chief Constable Dave Thompson

Victim's sister in tears after fresh inquest decision

Julie Hambleton, whose older sister Maxine died in the bombings, said the decision represented "the most seismic day" for all the families.

After bursting into tears outside Council House in Solihull, she told reporters:

  • the decision was "beyond our expectations"
  • finding out the truth about the bombings "was fundamental"
  • urged the bombers to find their "moral compass" and come forward
  • called on the government to ensure families were given Legal Aid funding


Birmingham Six member 'very pleased' with ruling

Paddy Hill, one of the Birmingham Six wrongfully convicted of the pub bombings, said he was "very pleased" with the coroner's decision.

Paddy Hill speaking after the coroner's decision. Credit: ITV News

"This is the first step that has been taken to find out the real truth and the massive cover up [between] the judiciary, the government and Birmingham police over the last 41 years," he said outside Council House in Solihull.

But he said he was still "sceptical" that the truth will emerge before going on to repeatedly attack West Midlands Police.

"Birmingham police couldn’t spell the word truth. They’re rotten.”

Asked if his faith in the authorities had been restored by the decision, Hill replied: "No way, no way - the system has got worse."

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