Birmingham pub bomb case closed

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The Independent Online
POLICE investigating the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings that killed 21 people and led to one of Britain's gravest miscarriages of justice announced yesterday that the case was closed and that no one was ever likely to be prosecuted for the murders.

The decision followed a three-year inquiry by West Midlands police into the worst IRA atrocity on the UK mainland.

The six Irishmen wrongly convicted of the bombings, who served 16 years in prison before being released in 1991, yesterday called for a public inquiry into the case to stop continuing 'innuendos' that they were really guilty and had only been freed on a technicality. Chris Mullin, the Labour MP who campaigned for the Birmingham Six, added that the police had missed their chance to prosecute the guilty men, whom he claims were known to the authorities for many years.

Announcing the results of the inquiry, the Chief Constable of the West Midlands, Ron Hadfield, said: 'The file so far as we are concerned is now closed . . . We have done everything we could possibly have done to bring the perpetrators to justice.' The Director of Public Prosecutions had concluded that the inquiry had found 'insufficient evidence to support any further criminal proceedings'.

Reminded that three years ago he emphasised the Six were innocent, he said: 'They were innocent so far as the courts are concerned and I stand by that statement.'

The Court of Appeal released the Six and quashed their convictions for taking part in the IRA attack after 'grave doubt' was cast on police and the forensic science evidence.

Mr Mullin has claimed that he met members of the four- strong terrorist team, all now living in Ireland, who admitted their role in the murders. 'All four of those responsible for the bombings passed through the custody of the West Midlands police in the year afterwards . . . but it was always unlikely that 20 years after the event sufficient evidence could be found to bring the real culprits to court.'