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tv   The Pub Bombings  BBC News  April 13, 2019 4:30am-5:01am BST

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our weather is warming up next week welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers but we are facing a cold weekend. in north america the headlines: and around the globe. people in sudan will wake up to the one that starts with a frost my name is lewis vaughanjones. for many of us, but with plenty our top stories: third head of state in as many days, of saturday morning sunshine. as an army officer takes over. the there will be some cloud building and across general announced his resignation eastern parts of england in particular, the odd stray shower late on friday, just one day after or especially into east anglia sudan has a new leader. it third in and south—east england, a bit of small hail associated three days but demonstrators may not leading a coup which ousted the with these, if you encounter be convinced by the appointment of president. more than 70 british mps one of them. another army officer. wikilea ks have signed a letter calling for the most of us will not. founderjulian assigns faces calls extradition ofjulian have signed a letter calling for the extradition of julian assange have signed a letter calling for the extradition ofjulian assange to single figure temperatures for most sweden, if a formal request is made. but maybe 14—15 in north—west the founder of wikilea ks, scotland in the sunshine, and a stronger wind in the south and west. sweden, if a formal request is made. the founder of wikileaks, who was arrested at the ecuadorian embassy northern ireland over the weekend by british mps to be extradited to could get some gusts up to around 40 sweden on rape allegations. —— in london, faces rape allegations mph or so. more cloud on the breeze assange. president trump says he's there. it is the second—biggest considering releasing migrant in the west and on the detainees into democrat—controlled north sea coast with the breeze, urban centres as the party opposes his immigration policies. outbreak of ebola in history but the not so much in the way of frost the ebola outbreak is the second world health organization the drc‘s as sunday begins, elsewhere it will be spread of the contagious virus is another frosty start, with sunshine, largest in history at the un says not yet a global health emergency. cloud building and the odd shower in the east on sunday. it's not yet a global health more cloud for south—west the committee says declaring an england, especially emergency wouldn't change anything cornwall and into northern ireland. on the ground. the further west you are you could see some patchy rain on sunday. now on bbc news, a special programme following the inquest into the
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birmingham pub bombings. it has been 1:5 birmingham pub bombings. it has been 45 years since 21 people lost their lives. the programme has followed one family's campaign forjustice. music: "every day when i'm away i'm thinking of you", by slade now, inquests have opened for the 21 victims of the 1974 birmingham pub bombings, after a long legal battle by the families of the victims. i'm more angry now than i ever have been, because my sister is not here. how do you sleep at night, you piece of scum?! maxine loved slade. she was in love with dave hill, she had a poster of him on her wall. she was full of life, she was kind. it really is incomprehensible to try and explain to people what it's like to lose maxine. i can just see her walking away,
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and it's very, very hard to think that i was the last one in my family to see her alive. i delivered her to her death. this force has covered up this for a0 years and we're not standing for it any more! as far as i was concerned, you killed my sister. we have always wanted and always will want truth, justice and accountability for the 21 who were murdered, en masse, nearly 45 years ago. and the petition was the beginning of that. sign the petition, folks! it'll take you two minutes. justice for the victims of the birmingham pub bombings. i remember the bombs. do you?
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yeah. sign the petition, folks! in december 2012, julie and brian hambleton began a petition, demanding the police open a fresh investigation into the 1974 birmingham pub bombings. we had to face the public and go out onto the streets begging for signatures, literally. and i found that very difficult. excuse me, sir, could you sign our petition please? i'm alright, thank you. cheers. excuse me, sir? excuse me? can i trouble you for a signature? i haven't got the time, mate, sorry. it's hard. it's really hard. justice for the victims of the birmingham pub bombings! but slowly, they won support. hi, julie, i'm maureen. hello, maureen. i'm maureen mitchell, i was a victim in the bombings. oh, my god. hello. it's really nice to meet you, oh, my god. and you. i was at a vigil in november, but you'd got so many
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other people around you. were you in the tavern in the town? i was in the... the mulberry bush? yeah. maureen mitchell was so badly injured in the mulberry bush pub, she was given the last rites. it's emotional for me because you have been through it, literally, and my heart goes out to you. and mine does to you. it's different for me, i mean, i'm here to tell the tale, and obviously maxine's not. yeah, but you have real—life memories of horror. real horror and terror. yeah. if i can supportjulie in any way, i will. and we will stay in touch now, i'm sure we will, you know. with the campaign gathering momentum, west midlands police agreed to re—examine all the evidence it held relating to the bombings ? analyzing 9,000 items. we'll go where the evidence goes, in time, and we'll go with re—investigating, if that's the right thing to do. if there is no hope, then clearly we'll need to make that decision and we'll
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need to explain it. # i was dancing when i was 12...# the only time i will feel that i've achieved anything for maxine is when i get the truth of who murdered her and why. i'm sort of stuck in a kind of limbo. 45 years ago, irish republicans were resisting british rule in northern ireland. the ira planted bombs at home and on the mainland. in 1974, the west midlands was hit more than 50 times. there had been few casualties, until the evening of the 21st of november. that night, brian gave his sister a lift into the city centre. you could never have guessed what was going to happen within the next 60 minutes.
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everything went black. just scrambling over each other to get out. it was horrible, it was like a nightmare, i must admit. you know, everyone was shouting and crying. bombs ripped through two pubs ? the tavern in the town and the mulberry bush. 21 people died and almost 200 others were injured. julie was just 11—years—old. and there's a picture of maxine. i think that's a fantastic picture of her because it really captures her. you know, look at her smile. and she made that dress herself. bless her. and then, i came across this. she used to love her bangles, maxine. and these were her rings, and i'm not sure, but i think that this is what she was wearing on the night
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she was killed because it's all bent and damaged. and it's all burnt. we don't care how many boxes we have to open. but whatever it takes, we will do it, because somebody has got to fight for these people who aren't here to fight for themselves. ladies and gentlemen, for 16 and a half years,
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we have been used as political scapegoats. .. there's a reason the hambletons' campaign began so long after the bombings. the police told us from the start that they knew we hadn't done it. six irishmen, jailed for the bombings in 1975, walked free from the court of appeal after 16 and a half years in prison. judges ruled their 21 murder convictions were unsafe. the man pumping his fists and celebrating with the crowds was paddy hill. he was one of the unspeakable devils that had ever had breath put in them. that was how i saw them. justice! i don't think the people in there have got the intelligence nor the honesty to spell the word, never mind dispense it. they're rotten! i'm patrick joseph hill. i'm one of the six men that was convicted of the birmingham pub bombings and more commonly known as the birmingham six.
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in 2013, as part of a bbc documentary, the hambletons agreed to meet paddy hill. there is still a cloud over us, there always has been. some of the things they said is we got out on a technicality. so i want the truth to come out, just like the hambletons. it's like we're going to meet the enemy. when i see the hambletons, i'm looking forward to it, but i'm still a bit apprehensive, you know? i know how i'm going to take them — it's how they're going to take me. there's many questions i want to ask him. i don't know what order i will ask them in. but it'sjudging him as a character.
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here i am, an innocent man coming to face them. trying to convince them that i had nothing to do with their sister's murder. meeting paddy hill was going off on a fork... ..of a path, to see if we could learn something new, and as it was, we did. julie, brian, do you want to come in and take a seat on these two seats here, yeah? paddy, do you just want to stay there a second? and thenjulie and brian willjust sit down. hi, julie. hello. hi, brian. hello. it's in our dna that we was told and read through the media and what we was told by the police, that you were the ring leader of the so called birmingham six and that, and as far as i was concerned, you killed my sister and all the other 20 innocent. i understand that, i understand that.
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you don't have to tell me — i know what they said. don't get me wrong, i am irish. i am green and i am republican. i would love to see my country united, but i have nothing to do with the ira. and you see when it happened, the cops told us right from the start, and i can't — the words are burned into my brain, they turned round and told us, quote, "we know you didn't do the bombings. we don't give a (sound dips) who done the bombings. we've got you — that's good enough for us. " the meeting lasted two hours. i think i'm quite a good judge of character. i mean...| mean, i could be sitting here still thinking that you killed my sister. yeah. but, you know, what we've learned and detected over the last year, without going over board, has changed my mindset. thank you. that's as far as i'm willing to go. thank you. he then offered to assist us
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in any way he could, and we asked him how that might manifest itself, and he said, "if you want, i will get you access to all my files." do you have access to the statements, or the trial transcripts? i have everything that you could think of. could you make them available to us? i will talk to my solicitor. i have a complete set of everything at my solicitor's, in london. i feel absolutely numb. i can't believe i've just met and spent time with the man i've always been told and believed murdered my sister. it was the hardest thing i've ever had to do. if we can have access to his papers, through his solicitor, that would turn everything upside down. what a strange alliance —
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the person who they've hated for years is suddenly helping them to understand the case. and for me it was a great moment, i must admit. and, i think, also for them. and i was delighted that they finally were getting somewhere near the truth. we always hoped and prayed that families from the other victims would join us, because that would make us stronger. my name is paul rowlands, i'm the son ofjohn rowlands who died in the mulberry bush pub on the 21st november 1974. my father was a regular at the mulberry bush pub. he'd finish work and then he used to get the train to moor street station and then walk over to the mulberry bush, and have a pint or two with his friends. and just like that, his life was taken from him and the only... ..the only comfort i can get from what happened is the fact that he was with his friends, and they all died very, very quickly. i got a tap on the shoulder when i was at work,
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saying that my father was one of the those that was killed. but it's something you try to pretend never happened because you didn't want to face up to it. i was only 20 at the time. a lot of the families actually went round the city looking for the families or whatever. ijust pretended it never happened and blocked it out and i didn't want to know because i knew deep down he was in there. when the other families started tojoin us, it sort of helped us solidify our commitment to continue to fight and we'd garner strength from each other because of it. soon after meeting the hambletons, paddy hill invited them to meet the lawyer who helped get his conviction overturned. if they have information that can provide answers to some of our questions, it will be a truly
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remarkable moment in our campaign. hello, come in. hello. gareth peirce had over 200 boxes of documents, including evidence suggesting the police had in their possession an unexploded bomb found in birmingham on the night of the bombings. the birmingham police had been denying from the beginning to them, that there was no third bomb. and when they told me that, i started laughing, i said, "well, if there's no third bomb, "how come i've got photographs of it? " the documents was momentous, where we was concerned, cos it started to fill in some of the gaps that we would never have been privy to, which was so important to us. after re—examining the case for over a year, west midlands police invited the hambletons to force headquarters. but there was anger when, at first, the chief constable insisted the family's lawyers couldn't attend.
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listen! i'm not moving till this is sorted. the police are paid to do a job, and where we're concerned, they wasn't doing the job. this force, this force, has covered up this for 40 years, and we're not standing for it any more. i will block that doorway, i'm telling you! that empowered me more, and made me angry. when the meeting did take place, the police told the hambletons they had found no new evidence, and so could not launch a fresh investigation. 200 people were left with life changing injuries, and the chief constable, who is a public servant, who is paid extremely good money, wasn't, and didn't, do what he's employed to do.
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i've been personally involved with the assessment work. it's been thorough and open, and no information is being covered up, for the reason that, if we were able to progress it, i would dearly love to progress it. they've lost the bomb, which we have a picture of the contents here, which, you know, they deny. this is the third bomb that is missing, a tangible piece of evidence that is missing, that would have had fingerprints on. in fact, the police admitted 35 items of evidence used at the trial of the birmingham six had gone missing. the working assumption is that they were disposed of sometime in the late 1980s, probably sometime around the 10th anniversary of the trial, on the basis that the case had been completed. and, again, that feels utterly at odds with current procedure, but was probably not as unusual at that time. in desperation, the hambletons
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turned to their lawyers. we immediately went for what we usually do in these cases, thinking about a fresh inquest. that could be a very useful platform in terms of a truth—seeking mechanism, for those people who want some very simple answers as to, "well, if the birmingham six didn't do it, "then who did it? was it known about? "could it have been prevented?" etc, etc. relatives of the 21 people killed in the 1974 birmingham bombings have been speaking of their relief that inquests into their it was a shock, but as with everything else, i thought, "this is a whitewash". the families spent over a yearfighting, in vain, to overturn the coroner's ruling in the courts. and, despite winning thousands of new supporters, faced further challenges. we have been denied legal aid, as of yesterday, six times.
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it just seems that it's such a battle. the police and the coroner and the authorities — they should be on the side of the people, of the families of the dead, but it's been a constant battle. more than 44 years afterthe birmingham pub bombings killed 21 people, the inquests into their deaths are set to begin later this morning. the coroner will sit in courtjust yards from where two city centre today is a definite moment of history. it's a moment of history for our city, and it's a moment of history for our loved ones. it has really been like a david vs goliath. everybody has tried to stop us having this inquest, and we're finally there, so, you know, we're going to see what comes from it. i think we were all hoping for the same thing, which was for information to be brought to the public's attention that hasn't been out there before, and that is what has happened.
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a former leading member of the ira has told the inquests that the explosions at the two pubs had not been authorised, and should never have happened. kieran conway left the ira in the 1990s, and is now a lawyer in dublin. i was absolutely appalled. the mulberry bush and the tavern were not legitimate targets within the ira parameters of what was permissible, and should never have been bombed at all. i'd describe it as, an unfortunate accident, some of it due to the inexperience of the people involved, the inexperience and lack of training, to the fact that the men themselves appear not to have known that this was not a legitimate target, and in fact, was expressly forbidden. anyone who claims that it was an accident... deluded.
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it's just unbelievable that in this day and age, somebody can excuse the murder of 21 people, and the injuries to over 200, including lost limbs and whatever. it shook the city, you know. there's no excuse for me, it makes me so angry, and exactly the same with the other families, that people can make such a statement. the ira appeared to have accepted what they were told by the bombers themselves, which is that they were unable to find an operational telephone box in time to phone in the warning. to the best of my knowledge, no member of the bombing team was ever disciplined, or suffered any kind of penalty. from the start, the coroner was clear — the suspected bombers would not be named. but then, via videolink,
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a former ira operative began giving evidence. he was referred to simply as "witness 0". we didn't expect counsel to the coroner to go as far as he did with witness 0. and then we simply pushed and pushed. now, a former ira bomber has named four men he says were responsible for the 1974 birmingham pub bombings. the man, known as witness 0, was part of an active service unit in the city, but was in prison when the pubs were attacked. he said he'd been given permission to reveal the names by the current head of the ira. my sister, my brother, and i were all sobbing in the court. we were sobbing. huge moment, huge. it was almost like a relief, that finally, we had, under oath in a public domain, the names that we have known
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about for so long. .. it'sjust huge. it'sjust huge for us. it is a really massive step. it was a very electric moment. it had turned into a truth and reconciliation commission as opposed to an inquest, really. it was almost the ira confessing its sins. he said seamus mcloughlin was the officer commanding the ira in birmingham at the time, and was in charge of selecting targets. mick murray, he said, was one of the bombers. another member of the bombing team, he said, was michael hayes. and then, when asked about a james gavin, witness 0 said, "well, he was involved". this is going to strange coming from a family of the... ..of one of the people that were murdered, but i am grateful that witness 0 came out and announced the bombers' names. so, you know, itjust seems strange for me to be praising
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an ex—ira person, but, you know, it took some guts to do that. of the four men named, only michael hayes is still alive. a self—confessed ira bomb—maker, he claims he was questioned by police about the bombings in 1974, but released without charge. witness 0 was asked whether a fifth man, michael patrick reilly, was also part of the group, but said he didn't know the name. mr reilly has always denied being involved. the jury in the birmingham pub bombings inquest is continuing to consider its conclusions. she just said the jury are back in. yeah. we've got it. yes to murder. yes, it was the ira. what we've heard from the jury today is that all 21 people who died ? 11 of them in the tavern in the town
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pub and ten at the mulberry bush ? were unlawfully killed. and among the key conclusions, the 21 people were murdered by the ira. the jury said there was no error or omission on the part of the police's response, that they had no forewarning of what was to happen. but at the end of six weeks of hearings, we know more about a chapter which has haunted birmingham for 44 years. today is the day for west midlands police's senior officers to now go ahead and bring tojustice those who remain living for murder. we demand action today. 44 years, i think, is long enough. what's the best thing that could happen now? an arrest. we believe there's enough evidence there that's been given under oath for at least one of the perpetrators to be extradited and tried for mass murder. clearly, there are huge challenges in taking the case forward,
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but actually, there are active lines of inquiry that we will pursue, and we will take those forward. we can promise that we will do our best, and we will do our best. for the families, the campaign goes on. i commend them, for their dogged determination in finding out the truth. without them, without brian and julie, we wouldn't be where we are today. we've come a long way, yes, but we still haven't got to where we should be, or where it should have been done nearly 44 years ago. music: everyday, by slade
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