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Birmingham pub bombing inquests: Suspects will not be named

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Victims

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Twenty-one people died when two bombs were detonated in Birmingham in 1974

Suspects in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings will not be named at fresh inquests, the appeal court has ruled.

Coroner Sir Peter Thornton challenged an earlier High Court decision to allow evidence about alleged suspects to be included in the inquest hearings.

Judges at the Court of Appeal have now ruled in the coroner’s favour.

Two IRA bombs exploded in city centre pubs killing 21 people. Relatives have campaigned for inquests to include the so-called “perpetrator issue”.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett announced on Wednesday the coroner had made “no error of law” in his original decision to exclude investigations into who was responsible for the bombings.

He added: “We allow the appeal and restore the original decision.”

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine died in the bombings, said she was “beyond disappointed” with the decision.

Relatives had previously argued the inquests could not take place without naming suspects, while their lawyers said discussing potential perpetrators “is central to the case”.

Those behind the attacks have never been prosecuted.

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Ten people were killed in the Mulberry Bush explosion

On November 21 1974, the IRA planted two bombs which ripped through the Tavern in the Town and nearby Mulberry Bush pubs, killing 21 and injuring 182.

The Birmingham Six were jailed for the murders and served 17 years behind bars before their convictions were quashed.

Five West Midlands Police officers were charged with perverting the course of justice in connection with the original criminal investigation, but a judge ruled in 1993 that a fair trial would be impossible.

During the latest appeal proceedings before Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, Lady Justice Hallett and Lord Justice McCombe, lawyers for the coroner said the hearings will not resolve the “enduring injustice” for victims and their families.

Peter Skelton QC, representing the coroner, said the victims, their families and the public interest “cannot be served” by a promised resolution that “cannot be delivered”.

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The families of the victims have fought for years to have inquests reopened

The High Court decision followed a judicial review brought on behalf of the bereaved families by Mrs Hambleton.

Mrs Hambleton, spokeswoman for victims’ campaign group Justice4the21, has said it would be “utterly redundant to have the inquests unless the perpetrators, their associates and those who prepared and planted the bombs are included”.

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