Pub bombs report may be vital in trial of detectives

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The Independent Online
A POLICE report on new scientific tests in the Birmingham pub bombings case could become a vital issue in the forthcoming trial of three detectives facing perjury and conspiracy charges, lawyers said yesterday.

Crown Prosecution Service sources confirmed that the contents of the report - said to provide important new evidence in the case - had already been disclosed to the solicitors for the three former detectives due to stand trial at the Old Bailey in February. The three retired West Midlands officers - George Reade, a former detective superintendent, Colin Morris, a former detective sergeant, and Terence Woodwiss, a former detective constable - are charged in connection with an interview with Richard McIlkenny, one of the six men freed by the Court of Appeal last year.

Lawyers for the three said the material would have to be examined carefully, but that anything which could support the defence case would be used. Scott Ingram, of Russell, Jones and Walker, solicitors for Mr Morris and Mr Woodwiss, said: 'If it was not disclosed to us, it should have been. I am sure it will be used in future proceedings if appropriate.'

Both Mr Ingram and Charles Underwood, solicitor for Mr Reade, denied being the source of an article in the Sunday Telegraph which suggested that the contents of the report were 'sensational' and could cause a re-evaluation of the case.

Some of the six men freed by the Court of Appeal last year have alleged that police are involved in 'a smear campaign' and a damage-limitation exercise. One lawyer close to the Birmingham Six said last night that the public should 'draw their own conclusions' about events.

The men, jailed in 1975 for the 1974 bombings by the IRA which killed 21 people, were released because of unreliable police evidence and doubts about the scientific tests, conducted by Dr Frank Skuse, that showed nitroglycerine on the hands of two of the men.