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Birmingham pub bombings - 37 years ago today


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Couldn't see a thread on it, just realised it was thirty-seven years ago today that the Provisional IRA planted three bombs of which two detonated in the city centre. Explosives killed twenty-one people and injured 182 people in the Mulberry Bush and The Tavern In The Town (now The Yard Of Ale) pubs. The third device which was planted by the Barclays Bank on Hagley Road did not detonate. RIP to all those that lost their lives on that tragic day.

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I remember it well.

My mates and I were regulars in the Tavern in the Town, but I was still in Leeds at university (final year) at the time. One of my pals was visiting from his course in Liverpool, and on his way down to Brum for the weekend. He offered me a lift, with the idea we could call up the guys and go for a few beers in the Tavern. I thought about it, but decided I was too skint and reluctantly declined. Off he went.

Next day I was watching the TV in our student flats when the news came through. I nearly crapped myself. Somebody actually said: "You look like you've seen a ghost".

I spent the next few hours in a phone box (no mobiles in those days) madly phoning round to see if anybody I knew had been in there. Amazingly, miraculously, nobody was (my mate had changed his mind at the last minute).

At the time, Leeds students' union was controlled by some hard left group who had just tabled a motion of solidarity with the Provisional IRA. Somebody called an extraordinary general meeting - which was so heavily attended that it had to be held outdoors. The exec was summarily voted out, and a bunch of centre-right types took over. An Irish guy on my course got dog's abuse in the street as well.

It all came back very vividly when I read Jonathan Coe's "The Rotters' Club" (you may have seen the TV version), which used it to explosive effect (no pun intended) in the plot.

I didn't go back into the Tavern/Yard of Ale until about four years ago. Apart from the name change it was still very much as it was in my day.

It was a particularly malicious choice of target: almost exclusively young clientele, cellar bar, only one narrow staircase for exit - and the bomb placed next to a heavy wooden pillar (I remember the surgeons saying that many of the injuries involved large shards of wood that had been blasted in all directions). At least the Mulberry Bush was street level and most of the blast went outward via the large plate glass windows.

Nasty, nasty business.

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One of the most horrible events in a very dark period of time, in that attack they really did try to cause as many deaths as possible. Just horrible.

A friend of mine's mum was in the Mulberry Bush when it went up, she was sat at the next table to where the bomb was left. Amazingly she got up and went into the toilets and as the door shut behind her the bomb went off so she escaped without injury, those she was with were obviously not so fortunate.

Sounds like you and your friend like many others had a fourtunate escape that day Mike tragic that so many others went for a pint only never to return home because of some cowards.

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I was only a kid at the time but remember it for a number of reasons, one being that my mates mom who was Irish got loads of abuse at work and refused to go out. As with the mountbaton assassination she was fuming and crying as she hated the IRA, her husband had a a full career in the Irish Guards.

Another was being told by a mates dad who was a copper about finding two black guys who were walking past at the time of the blast, the bodies were a 100's of metres away, fully intact and hands in pockets.

I used to get the number 17 bus to small heath where my nan lived and remember seeing how the local irish had set up a perimeter around the irish center in case of retaliation.

It gets to me when people say that the Birmingham 6 were found innocent when in reality the poor handling of the case by the police gave them no choice but set them free but they were not found innocent. They were staunch IRA supporters and at the time were travelling to Belfast to attend the funeral of James McDade, an IRA member who had accidentally killed himself while planting a bomb in Coventry.

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ANyone ever read the book about the bobmingsby the MP Chris Mullins (I think that's the name, not 100%) ?

Anyway, if you are from Brum it's a real good read, if not a little scary. The Police have not changed much but they must be a tiny bit better than back then.

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Pro-IRA songs are sung at Parkhead, and British forces are booed by the Celtic support.

And people in our city still wear the shirt that is a symbol of the murderous bastards that did this to innocent people on a night out.

It's a shame that Chris Mullin had no interest in justice for the victims.

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I was only a kid at the time but remember it for a number of reasons, one being that my mates mom who was Irish got loads of abuse at work and refused to go out...

There was indeed a lot of racist abuse of Irish people at that time. Mind you, there had been before as well.

It gets to me when people say that the Birmingham 6 were found innocent when in reality the poor handling of the case by the police gave them no choice but set them free but they were not found innocent. They were staunch IRA supporters and at the time were travelling to Belfast to attend the funeral of James McDade, an IRA member who had accidentally killed himself while planting a bomb in Coventry.

Wiki"]Their third appeal, in 1991, was allowed. Hunter was represented by Lord Gifford QC, others by human rights solicitor, Gareth Peirce. New evidence of police fabrication and suppression of evidence, the discrediting of both the confessions and the 1975 forensic evidence led to the Crown withdrawing most of its case against the men. The Court of Appeal stated about the forensic evidence that "Dr. Skuse's conclusion was wrong, and demonstrably wrong, judged even by the state of forensic science in 1974."[13] In 2001, a decade after their release, the six men were awarded compensation ranging from £840,000 to £1.2 million.

I'm not sure what clearer finding of innocence you think would be possible. They were beaten up in custody to extract false confessions, the forensic evidence was found to be fabricated, the prosecution later withdrew its evidence, and they were given what was at the time large compensation.

Are you suggesting that despite all this they were guilty?

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It's a shame that Chris Mullin had no interest in justice for the victims.

Don't you think that trying to find the real culprits, and in fact spending a lot more effort in doing so than the police seem to have done, is showing an interest in justice for the victims? Or is it enough just to arrest some random group of people and imprison them? Does that deliver justice to the victims?

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It's a shame that Chris Mullin had no interest in justice for the victims.

Don't you think that trying to find the real culprits, and in fact spending a lot more effort in doing so than the police seem to have done, is showing an interest in justice for the victims? Or is it enough just to arrest some random group of people and imprison them? Does that deliver justice to the victims?

I know that he tried to find the 'real' culprits, which I believe that he said that he did, but he fell short of revealing them to the authorities, or did he not?

Random is subjective. Clearly the convictions were declared 'unsafe', unsurprising after the antics of WMP, but I don't recall a declaration of innocence. Maybe they were, and maybe they weren't, but we shall never know.

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It's a shame that Chris Mullin had no interest in justice for the victims.

Don't you think that trying to find the real culprits, and in fact spending a lot more effort in doing so than the police seem to have done, is showing an interest in justice for the victims? Or is it enough just to arrest some random group of people and imprison them? Does that deliver justice to the victims?

I know that he tried to find the 'real' culprits, which I believe that he said that he did, but he fell short of revealing them to the authorities, or did he not?

Random is subjective. Clearly the convictions were declared 'unsafe', unsurprising after the antics of WMP, but I don't recall a declaration of innocence. Maybe they were, and maybe they weren't, but we shall never know.

I have a vague recollection of his account of meeting them, I think from a newspaper article several years ago. I think the basis for being introduced was that he wouldn't disclose the process by which he met them, and that anyway they were unidentifiable to him, as you would expect; but that they were able to supply enough evidence to him to make him believe what he was being told was true.

Perhaps it was an elaborate plot to free their top men, who later returned to a life of, er, total obscurity interspersed with occasional interviews, in contrast to most freed revolutionary terrorists.

Or perhaps the West Midlands Police, at that time a byword for corruption and violence, picked up a few Irish blokes who were readily to hand, travelling back to go to an IRA funeral (slapdash tradecraft there, I think), beat the shit out of them, and stitched them up.

I'm intrigued by the logic of the wonderful Lord Denning, as droopy a **** as ever donned judicial robes, in dismissing their second appeal:

Just consider the course of events if their [the Six's] action were to proceed to trial ... If the six men failed it would mean that much time and money and worry would have been expended by many people to no good purpose. If they won, it would mean that the police were guilty of perjury; that they were guilty of violence and threats; that the confessions were involuntary and improperly admitted in evidence; and that the convictions were erroneous. That would mean that the Home Secretary would have either to recommend that they be pardoned or to remit the case to the Court of Appeal. That was such an appalling vista that every sensible person would say, 'It cannot be right that these actions should go any further.' They should be struck out either on the ground that the men are stopped from challenging the decision of Mr. Justice Bridge, or alternatively that it is an abuse of the process of the court. Whichever it is, the actions should be stopped
(same source as before)

So, if the appeal failed, it would have been a waste of time; and if it succeeded, it would mean they had been fitted up, and we can't admit that, so it must be struck out. Utterly, shamelessly, astonishing. But a good insight into the mindset of the judiciary, perhaps.

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Weren't they all nicked on a train scarpering Brum covered with explosive dust ??

Frank Skuse used positive Griess test results to claim that Hill and Power had handled explosives. Callaghan, Hunter, McIlkenny, and Walker all proved negative. GCMS tests at a later date were negative for Power and contradicted the initial results for Hill.[4] Skuse's 99% certainty that Power and Hill had explosives traces on their hands was fundamentally opposed by defence expert Dr Hugh Kenneth Black FRIC (ex HM Chief Inspector of Explosives, Home Office). Skuse's evidence was clearly preferred by the trial judge.[5] The jury found the six men guilty of murder and on 15 August 1975 they were sentenced to life terms...

...New evidence of police fabrication and suppression of evidence, the discrediting of both the confessions and the 1975 forensic evidence led to the Crown withdrawing most of its case against the men. The Court of Appeal stated about the forensic evidence that "Dr. Skuse's conclusion was wrong, and demonstrably wrong, judged even by the state of forensic science in 1974."

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Also I think its appaling that in nearly 40 years they have ever been able to succesfully convict anyone.

i find it hard to believe that the british government dont know who did it. they probably do but for some reason or another see it best not to arrest those responsible.

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Also I think its appaling that in nearly 40 years they have ever been able to succesfully convict anyone.

i find it hard to believe that the british government dont know who did it. they probably do but for some reason or another see it best not to arrest those responsible.

I think you are probably right there Connell

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