Saturday 18 November 2017

Coroner backs Birmingham bomb families' funds bid

The outside of the Mulberry Bush pub in Birmingham after a bomb exploded. Photo: PA Wire
The outside of the Mulberry Bush pub in Birmingham after a bomb exploded. Photo: PA Wire

Richard Vernalls

The Birmingham pub bombings coroner, hearing inquests into the deaths of 21 victims, has backed a bid for legal funding by bereaved families.

Peter Thornton indicated he wanted the funding issue - which has led to a war of words between some of the families and the British government - to be settled by early next year.

Yesterday, the coroner convened the first pre-inquest hearing into the 1974 bombings in Birmingham, in a bid to establish the scope of the proceedings.

He also said he had neither the power nor the authority to order funding to be put in place.

On November 21, 1974, the IRA planted two bombs which ripped through the Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush pubs, killing 21 people and injuring 182 others.

The botched police investigation into the atrocity led to the wrongful convictions of the Birmingham Six.

Yesterday's hearing was the first step in what is expected to be a lengthy inquest process, since the families won a ruling from Birmingham senior coroner Louise Hunt for new hearings earlier this year.

Mr Thornton said: "I do wish to say I support the applications of those families who wish to participate fully in these inquests by way of legal representation."

He added: "The events of November 21, 1974, brought about the tragic deaths of 21 people.

"These were calamitous events and require full and fair investigation at least as far the inquest procedures may permit, under law."

The hearing at the city's civil justice centre took place amid the funding row between the lawyers of eight of the 21 victims' families and the government.

Irish Independent

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