UK announces new probe into 1974 Birmingham bombing

UK announces new probe into 1974 Birmingham bombing

Blasts in two pubs killed 21 people; 6 men had been wrongly jailed for attack

LONDON (AA) – British authorities Wednesday have announced a fresh probe into a 1974 bomb attack attributed to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that killed 21 people.

An inquest into the deaths will be reopened after a senior coroner said she had received “significant” new information about the bombing, namely that police had potentially been warned of an attack.

The decision means a jury will be called to hear evidence from experts and witnesses of events of nearly 42 years ago.

More than 200 people were wounded by the blasts in central Birmingham on Nov. 21, 1974, which were caused by devices placed in two pubs.

The original inquest was suspended when six men were put on trial and wrongly jailed for 16 years for the attack. Their convictions were quashed in 1991.

No other individual has since been convicted of the bombing, although it has been widely attributed to the IRA.

Announcing her decision to reopen the inquest, senior coroner Louise Hunt said it was possible that police in Birmingham had failed to act on evidence an attack was being planned.

She said on Wednesday: “I have serious concerns that advanced notice of the bombs may have been available to the police and that they failed to take the necessary steps to protect life.”

There was “no indication that the police took any active steps” in response to two separate tip-offs before the bombings, Hunt said.

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine was killed in the blasts at the age of 18, said she cried when the coroner announced her decision.

In comments broadcast on BBC television, she said: “Today is the most seismic day for all of us. I hope that our fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers are looking down and they’re proud.”

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