Letter: Inquiry upholds ignoble tradition

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Sir: The conclusions of the May Inquiry into the Guildford Four and Maguire miscarriages, which make some criticisms of the criminal justice system but find that those scandals were not due to any weakness in that system but were the result of individual failings, are self-contradictory and incredible ('Guildford Four not victims of a plot, judge decides', 1 July).

It may be that the timing of the decision now to move, on temporary transfer, Northern Irish prisoners back to Northern Ireland - which you also report - has more to do with the need to provide a spurious sort of balance to diffuse the impact of the disappointing May Inquiry report than it has to do with assisting the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The conclusions of the May Inquiry will do nothing to reassure Irish people, particularly not the nationalist community in Northern Ireland, about the prospects for equal treatment and equal justice - despite all John Major's fine words about the Downing Street declaration. Cynically timed and politically calculating announcements about prisoners do not go any where near providing such reassurance.

Ever since the Widgery Report into the shooting-down of unarmed civil-rights marchers by the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday 1972, Irish people have come to expect whitewash from British judicial inquiries. It is sad that Sir John May and his team have maintained that ignoble tradition.

Yours etc,


Handsworth, Birmingham

The writer was formerly secretary of the campaign for the Birmingham Six (England).