Evans is sued on terrorist remark

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The Birmingham Six yesterday served a libel writ on Tory MP David Evans over remarks allegedly made during an interview with sixth-formers.

Supporters of the Birmingham Six said the comments, which apparently questioned the men's innocence of the 1974 pub bombings, were deeply hurtful and came as their final compensation claims were still being settled.

The writ was served on Mr Evans's solicitors by agents of the men's lawyers, London-based BM Birnberg & Co.

Benedict Birnberg said the action was prompted by remarks allegedly made by Mr Evans when he addressed schoolchildren in Welwyn Garden City last month.

Mr Birnberg said he wrote to Mr Evans about the comments in early March but, when no reply was received, a writ was issued last Friday and served yesterday. "We are seeking damages and an injunction preventing him from saying these things again," he said.

Michael Collins from the British and Irish Human Rights Centre, which campaigns for the men, said: "Mr Evans' remarks were ill-judged and irresponsible, particularly coming from a Member of Parliament.

"The Birmingham Six case was settled, and they proved their innocence. Any attempt to impugn their integrity must be fought. They are quite right to take legal action to protect their reputation. These sort of remarks are deeply hurtful."

The men's lawyers were seeking a judicial review in a bid to finalise compensation claims, he said. "Their compensation has still not be settled, although substantial interim payments have been made.

"Their marriages have broken down, their children grew up, and their worth was taken away while they were in prison. They have found it virtually impossible to get work, and yet no settlement has been made."

Mr Evans' talk with sixth-formers at Stanborough School caused a storm of protest when details of what he had said reached the media.