Birmingham Six men set to camp on Straw's doorstep

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The Independent Online
Four members of the Birmingham Six are preparing to camp on the steps of the Home Office in protest at the state's failure to fully compensate them for the 16 years they spent in prison.

Hugh Callaghan, 67, Paddy Hill, 52, Billy Power, 51, and Gerry Hunter, 52, will picket the offices of Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, unless he agrees to hold talks with them by the middle of next week. The four have decided to take their fight for compensation to Whitehall following six years of legal wrangling which has left them penniless. Two weeks ago, Mr Hill was taken to court by Haringey Council in London for failing to pay his council tax. He told the court that he simply had no money and was ineligible to claim benefits because no National Insurance contributions have been paid to cover his years in prison. Mr Callaghan, when he reached 65, was told he would have to pay around pounds 4,000 in missed contributions before being eligible for a pounds 63-a-week pension.

"We don't want to be millionaires," said Mr Callaghan. "We just want them to treat us fairly". The men have had two interim payments totalling pounds 200,000, and a "final offer" in 1995 of around pounds 100,000 for some of them, but they believe they are entitled to much more - and to an apology.