Birmingham Six member McIlkenny dies at 73

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One of the Birmingham Six, the Irishmen who served long prison terms for what is regarded as one of the British legal system's most serious miscarriages of justice, died yesterday.

Richard McIlkenny, who was 73, died of cancer in hospital in Dublin. He and five others spent 16 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of the 1974 IRA pub bombings which killed 21 people in Birmingham. They were jailed in 1975 and released after years of campaigns.Their release sent shockwaves through the judicial system.

Hugh Callaghan, one of the Six, said of Mr McIlkenny: "He was a lovely guy with a lovely family, very well-mannered. He didn't do anybody any harm."

Mr McIlkenny was a factory worker when he was arrested for the bombings, which also injured 160 people. The six were convicted largely on statements they were alleged to have made to the police,but the forensic evidence against them was later held to be unreliable.