Inquest Rules Victims Of Birmingham Pub Bombings 'Unlawfully Killed'

5 April 2019, 13:44 | Updated: 5 April 2019, 16:52

Pub Bombings

An inquest jury has ruled the 21 victims of the Birmingham pub bombings in 1974 were unlawfully killed.

The 11-member panel has sat through almost six weeks of evidence and has been tasked with completing a questionnaire, listing their narrative findings. 

It's concluded a warning call from the IRA was inadequate and contributed to the deaths.

Two massive detonations caused what one witness described as "pure carnage", ripping apart the packed Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush pubs on the night of November 21, killing 21 and injuring 220 more. 

Before sending the jury out, coroner Sir Peter Thornton QC directed jurors to find that the victims were "unlawfully killed". 

Two massive detonations caused what one witness described as "pure carnage", ripping apart the packed Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs on the night of November 21, killing 21 and injuring 220 more. 

The 11-member jury panel, which sat for almost six weeks and deliberated for almost five hours, unanimously determined that an inadequate warning call by the Provisional IRA, which carried out the attacks, cost the stretched police vital minutes. 

They also found there were no failings, errors or omissions by West Midlands Police's response to the bomb warning call, and further concluded there was no tip-off to the force, giving advanced warning the blasts were going to happen. 

The six female and five male jurors concluded all the victims were unlawfully killed, following a direction from coroner Sir Peter Thornton QC. 

Sir Peter said: "The atrocities of the night of Thursday 21 November 1974 are now etched in the history of Birmingham. 

"Those dreadful events will never be forgotten because the people of Birmingham will never forget the 21 lives that were tragically lost." He added: "I wish to express my condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones in these terrible bombings. 

"I wish to express my admiration and respect for the dignity in which you have conducted yourselves during the difficult time of the inquests." 

The coroner added: "It would not be right to leave the inquest without paying tribute to those who helped that dreadful night. 

"We always expect our emergency services particularly the police and firefighters to be there for us at a time of disaster and they were. 

"They were quickly at the scenes, and carried out brave and distressing work. 

"But it is also clear that there were many others, members of the public who just did the right thing and helped as best they could and I wish to pay particular tribute to them." He added: 

"The taxis were described by one witness as being brilliant." 

"Named or unnamed they were all remarkable," he said. 

"Customers at the pubs, people passing by, they all put themselves out to go and help." 

Sir Peter added: "These were the people of Birmingham shown at their best - brave, generous, selfless. 

"A genuinely positive side of humanity in contrast to the devastation and destruction all around them. 

"My heartfelt appreciation to all of them, and no doubt many more who did so much in return for so little." 

Julie Hambleton - who lost her sister Maxine in the bombings - spoke outside court after the jury came to a conclusion.

Justice 4 The 21 want West Midlands Police to continue their investigation into the IRA bombing campaign that started in 1973.

She told reporters there was "more hope to move forward" but wanted those responsible charged. 

Police Chief Constable David Thompson said the force had learnt and changed a lot since the 1970s.

He added "the threat was very, very different to what is today" and they had new ways of dealing with terrorist incidents.