Blow for relatives of Birmingham bombing victims as inquest delayed

The coroner plans to appeal a ruling ordering him to broaden the scope of the inquiry

Blow for relatives of Birmingham bombing victims as inquest delayed

Birmingham pub bombings campaigners launch an appeal to crowd-fund their High Court challenge, 04-Aug-2017. Image: Richard Vernalls/PA Wire/PA Images

The coroner overseeing an inquest into the Birmingham pub bombings has announced plans to appeal a judgement ordering him to broaden the scope of the inquiry.

The UK High Court last Friday ordered Judge Peter Thornton to reconsider his decision not to name the suspects of the Birmingham pub bombings in fresh inquests.

The IRA bombings took the lives of 21 people and injured hundreds more in November 1974.

The Birmingham Six were wrongly imprisoned for the attacks in 1975 - but no one else has been prosecuted since they were freed in 1991.

Suspects

Last summer, Judge Thornton ruled out the naming of possible suspects in the fresh inquest – warning that any inquest ruling which indentified suspects would be unlawful.

He claimed including their identities could see the new hearings "taking on the role of a proxy criminal trial."

He was ordered to reconsider that position last Friday however a spokesperson this afternoon said he would be appealing that order, warning that it was a “complex matter about the purpose of an inquest and the approach of a coroner to setting the boundaries” of the inquests.

He said the questions raised by the order are “vital to the inquests” and “are also of general public importance.”

Funding

Families of the victims have warned that the inquests would be “utterly redundant and a waste of tax payers money” if potential suspects within the scope of the hearing.

Last week’s High Court ruling followed a crowdfunded legal challenge taken out by the families.

Judge Thornton’s announcement today is a further blow to the families who had to raise £30,000 (€34,000) to fund the original challenge.

They may now have to raise further funds to be represented at the Court of Appeal.

The Coroner’s application will be funded by the British Government.

A pre-inquest hearing which was due to take place on 22 February has been postponed as a result of the appeal.