Justice for the 21

04 July 2014 - Birmingham Mail - by R. J. Ellory

We Have Every Right To Show Outrage at Lack of Apology

Award winning Birmingham born thriller writer and musician R. J. Ellory, author of global best seller 'A Quiet Belief in Angels' is guest columnist for Justice4the21 this week.

I have never been afraid to express my opinion, either privately or publicly.

Nor have I been afraid to admit my mistakes, and - wherever possible - not only apologise, but also seek to make amends and repair any damage done.

I have also done some stupid things in my life, as I am sure we all have.

Adults, it seems, are really not so different from the children they once were. When pressed, the justification for most of our mistakes is the same: It seemed like a good idea at the time. When faced with the mistakes of others, I certainly find it hard to understand why an apology cannot be offered. Most times, when we have been wronged, all we seek is an acceptance of responsibility from those who have wronged us, and a simple five-letter word: Sorry.

My very firm belief is that one should expect no less than decent human behaviour from everyone, even when that 'everyone' is a council, a government, a law enforcement body or an official body charged with investigative powers. A government is granted its power by a democratic vote. That government is thus granted the authority to fulfill legal duties and civil functions as dictated not only by the law, but also the moral and ethical guidelines inherent within that particular society.

When we see a democratic system flounder beneath the weight of its own errors, all the while seeking to deflect not only responsibility but shirking all sense of social and civil obligation, I believe that we - as citizens, as human beings - have every right to express our outrage.

On the night of November 21st, 1974, the worst mainland terrorist attack to date took place right here in Birmingham. Twenty-one innocent civilians lost their lives, and close to two hundred people were seriously injured.

Those responsible have never been brought to justice. The official investigation carried out by the Police not only resulted in the wrongful arrest, trial, conviction and imprisonment of six people, but also served to highlight a fundamental flaw in our supposedly accountable system. We trust the authorities to execute their duties to a fault, and yet those same authorities do not feel any sense of duty or obligation to explain or apologise when those duties are shirked, or - in the worst of cases such as this one - omitted altogether.

In November this year there will be a commemorative concert in Birmingham Town Hall, subsequently a memorial service in St. Philip's Cathedral. Once again, the people of Birmingham will stand shoulder-to-shoulder, heads held high, and remember not only those that lost their lives that night, but also acknowledge the taxi drivers, the emergency service workers, the Salvation Army volunteers and the good citizens of this city for all that they did to ensure that the number of fatalities was not even greater.

Had those brave and selfless people not stepped up to the plate then we would have been remembering and commemorating a great many more brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends. My band, Zero Navigator, my dear friend Martin Smith (ELO), and other artistes and performers will lift our voices...not in protest, not in anger, but in memory of those who should still be alive today, those who would have been raising their own families here in this proud and great city.

We are not asking for a head on a pike. We are not making a political stance. We are declaring our right as free citizens within a democratic society to be told the truth, to understand how the families of the victims were failed, to insist that the powers-that-be accept responsibility, express an apology, and instigate what should have been instigated so many years ago: a full, honest, transparent investigation into the terrible events of November 1974 with the required vigor and tenacity to achieve a just result.

Acts of terrorism possess the power to irreparably wound the heart of a city.

Only truth possesses the power to heal.

20 June 2014 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

Victims suffer in silence as killers 'get out of jail free'

THIS week Justice4the21 has been in Parliament listening as Peter Hain gave evidence to the Northern Ireland Select Committee hearing on On the Runs.

It is examining how over 200 people were told they were no longer wanted for paramilitary crimes committed before the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

On The Runs (OTRs) are those suspected, but not convicted of paramilitary offences.

Regular readers will know that we are concerned that those responsible for the Birmingham pub bombings may be among the 200.

It was particularly encouraging that ourselves and families connected to the Hyde Park and Regents Park, Harrods and Docklands bombings were united and joined by representatives from the Northern Ireland organisation Innocent Victims United.

We were able to tell the politicians that a Goverment-led taskforce must be developed and must carry out a mapping exercise where the concentration of innocent victims and survivors of terrorism are located throughout Great Britain.

We agree 100 per cent cent with IVU leader Kenny Donaldson - a staunch supporter of ours and a good friend - who said that following this exercise support services, structures and groups appropriately resourced via Government funding must then follow.

Kenny added: "IVU has consistently argued that the second class treatment which innocent victims/survivors of terrorism based in Great Britain have experienced is wrong and cannot be allowed to continue.

"Weekly, IVU is being contacted by victims/survivors who are struggling emotionally, physically and financially and who have nowhere to go. The legacy of terrorism in Great Britain is significant and the Government needs to waken up once and for all and do right by its' citizens who are suffering in silence".

He continued: "We strand shoulder to shoulder with Great Britain -based victims and survivors of terrorrsm - they must be given a standing and acknowledgement that has not been forthcoming to date".

"The Government betrayed innocent victims/survivors of terrorism through the development of the 'OTR Administration Scheme."

At the hearing Mr Hain, The former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said several times he was not involved in the mechanics of the scheme, adding there was no interference with the independence of the police.

He also rejected any suggestion the scheme to deal with OTRs was done with Sinn Féin "behind Parliament's back" and that the letters did not amount to "a get out of jail free card".

Quite simply, we think such comments are outrageous - and absolutely predictable.

06 June 2014 - Birmingham Mail - by Brian Hambleton

In Bob, We hope for the Truth

I AM seething.

I hear that West Midlands Police Commissioner Bob Jones has written to the Prime Minister to demand a public inquiry into the deaths of three Birmingham men during the Birmingham riots.

Let me say immediately that I have the greatest respect and admiration for Tariq Jahan, the father of Haroon Jahan, who along with Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir, died after being struck by a car in the riots.

Several men were later cleared of murder in a trial which was briefly halted because of problems with the police investigation.

On the night the tragedy happened, Tariq Jahan, while in a state of great shock and grief, pleaded with his community not to take retaliatory action. He quelled a serious situation, only to be later slapped in the face as a result of what I believe are the inadequacies of West Midland Police.

Everyone has a right to life including those tragic young men - and including the 21 who died in the Birmingham Pub Bombings in 1974 .

We, too, feel we have been slapped in the face by what we see as failings by senior management in West Midlands Police.

In April we were told there would be no public inquiry into the pub bombings, on the back of a two year investigation during which we were promised, amongst other things, that remaining evidential items would be taken to the Netherlands for DNA profiling.

We later learned this had not happened and, not only that, they had lost one major item of a bomb and 34 other items. It beggars belief.

So, I look forward to Mr Jones flexing his muscles equally as much for Justice4the21 as he has done for the families of the three who died in the Birmingham riots.

The relatives and families of those who died the pub bombings deserve a fresh inquiry.

I believe West Midland Police used our investigation simply as a ruse to transfer a Birmingham atrocity on paper on to disc - with their own adjustments.

We deserve the truth.

If it wasn't the IRA who bombed Birmingham, then I am convinced that West Midland Police and the UK Government know who did. But under the 75-year ban on papers relating to the case, only when all those involved have passed on will it be revealed.

I have met Mr Jones and find him personable and a man of integrity.

No-one is above the law, so in Bob we trust.

11 May 2014 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton (2)

Police Sham

On Monday 7 April 2014, the citizens of the United Kingdom came to a stark realisation that the murder of unarmed innocent victims murdered en masse have no recourse from the Police. The Chief Constable Chris Sims of West Midlands Police made it quite clear that they are not prepared to re-investigate the biggest unsolved mass murder in England's history of the 20th century but that they had, to add insult to injury, lost 35 vital pieces of evidence that they are not bothering to look for or track down!

In our meeting with Chris Sims, he was so disinterested in the meeting that he had a civilian conduct the process. However, Sims was drawn in because our questions were directed only to him.

To set the tone of how insensitive they were, they wanted to open the meeting by describing where our loved one's were on that night and what their injuries were! We were appalled at them for offering to discuss such information at this particular meeting as it would have been wholly inappropriate. In whose world would you re-traumatise relatives with those details in a meeting in which you were ultimately going to state there would be no re-investigation?!

Eventually, after some pushing, we discovered that the police had not, as they had led us all to believe sent off any items to be forensically tested to the Netherlands. In fact, all that they had sent was a description of what they had, how the evidence had been stored asking the organisation if it might be worth testing.

We continued to query the Chief Constable as to how it is possible for anyone to make as assessment on anything if they do not physically have the item. He postured and stated that due to the evidence's provenance and how poorly it was kept that the items were not considered good enough to go through forensic testing. We pursued this line of questioning, asking, if all police forces used his methodology then the likes of Stephen Lawrence's' perpetrators would never have been caught! Stephen Lawrence's killers were sentenced on the most infinitesimal spot of blood found on a sweater that was years old and had been washed many times! The actual physical items that WMP still have (not lost) should all be sent to be forensically tested irrelevant as to how old each item may be or how it was stored.

Chris Sims has made it abundantly clear he has no interest in doing the job that he is paid to do, which is of course to look for new evidence and track down, in any way possible, the murderers of 21 innocent victims, that left 182 people with life changing injuries.

Peter Henrick raised some extremely excellent points in his letter April 11 2014 in the Birmingham Mail:

"Was all the evidence stored together? If so, where? How did 35 items relating to the same investigation become detached and when? Where was all the evidence kept? Who was responsible for it? Do the police not keep copies of important evidence as an insurance against possible loss? When was the loss of the 35 items discovered? How does Sims know it was lost/mislaid/destroyed/hidden/stolen in the 1980s?

How do the police normally dispose of documents/evidence? It is inconceivable that confidential items would be disposed of by binning. Is Sims seriously asking us to believe that potentially vital pieces of evidence could be destroyed without a record of their destruction being kept? What was the normal method of destruction of documents in the 1980s? When was the search for the missing documents conducted? Which senior officer signed the certificate confirming that despite a thorough search the missing items could not be located?"

Sims at no point in our meeting gave any explanation of any of the details/questions above. He was dismissive and condescending. At one point, when we queried what if anything had been sent off to be tested, he looked at his colleagues with such a patronising tone asking "I have just explained clearly that items have been assessed". We immediately responded, making it distinctly evident that he had not clarified this at all. As it appeared he did not fully comprehend this straight forward question, I had to give him an example, by using a drinking glass; asking if this had been part of the 3rd bomb irrelevant of its provenance, had this physical piece of evidence actually been sent to be forensically tested? Very reluctantly (realising he couldn't squirm his way out of this direct question) he answered "no, physical evidence had been sent". What an utter sham.

Our Mom told each of the senior police officers that they were all liars and that we were wasting our time sitting there, because they don't care and have no interest. What proof do we have that they have actually done what they said they have been doing for the past two years, especially when we review what the police have now stated, which is that NO actual evidence has been forensically tested at all. Mom continued and told Sims that she hoped that he never had to be called to the morgue to identify one of his own!

We are disgusted with the Chief Constable, who it appears has no concern for the victims or the survivors. WMP have been quoted this past week in the media stating that they will leave 'no stone unturned'. If that's the case then why is the Chief Constable not actively pursuing other lines or enquiry and setting up a task force to look for new evidence? Yet more rhetoric from the very people who are meant to protect and serve us.

They told us they had in effect lost 35 pieces of evidence. At no time in our meeting do any of us recall them saying those pieces of evidence may have been 'disposed of' as has been noted in the press. So Mr Sims, what is it, lost or disposed?

As for sending evidence to the Netherlands for forensic testing, it took repeated and persistent questioning from a number of the family to discover 'an assessment of the evidence' actually meant an assessment of a list of the evidence. No physical items of evidence were actually sent for testing at anytime.

We all should be very concerned and worried that the senior management of WMP appears to have the attitude of sheer apathy and total disregard for the very core of our Democratic society, the Law. Remember, the benchmark of any civilised society can be measured in its justice system. Where then does this latest decision benchmark the UK in terms of being 'civilised' & 'democratic'?

It now seems that WMP have incontrovertibly clarified the point justice4the21 have always stated, anyone with evil in their mind can come to Birmingham and kill as many people as they wish without any fear of retribution, ever. We all should Pray.

11 May 2014 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

Why Yewtree, but not bombings?

Someone said to me the other day that 'we're living in interesting times' upon news that Gerry Adams had been arrested. The news of his arrest, as I'm sure you can imagine came as a welcome surprise to my family and I. He was questioned by police for four days over his alleged ole in the murder of mother of ten Jean McConville, in Belfast in 1972, denying an involvement.

Of course, we always knew that he would be set free, and he has been released without charge. To us, it was inevitable as senior management at West Midlands Police making every possible excuse not to re-investigate the Birmingham Pub Bombings.

What we find astonishing it that during 1969 - 1998 over 3,700 innocent victims have been killed via terrorism acts related to 'the Troubles' in Northern Ireland. Approximately 8% of these murders were committed on the mainland of Britain. We have been told by people in Northern Ireland that the IRA were 'proud' to kill as many 'mainlanders' as they could. This was because in their obscene minds, killing someone on the mainland was the equivalent of killing 1,000 people in Northern Ireland.

No one's life is worth more than another. What a great pity that our own Government do not see it that way.

There is a hierarchy of justice in the UK, this is something that has become very stark to us in recent years.

God Forbid, but if someone was to be stabbed to death today, the police would be expected to go out and investigate and look for evidence and clues until those responsible were caught. Once arrested, all evidence would be collated and handed to the Crown Prosecution Service, charges would follow, then a trial before a jury where the accused would be either be convicted and sentenced or found not guilty and released.

Forty years ago this year, 21 innocent unarmed people were murdered in cold blood in the pub bombings in Birmingham and a further 182 people were left with life changing injuries.

The West Midlands Police Chief Constable, Chris Sims informed my family and I that 'due to the passage of time we don't believe it is in the best interests to continue as we have no new evidence.'

I actually asked him, was it not the job of the police to go looking for new evidence? He replied 'yes you are correct but...' where he reiterated the same inane line.

Something is very odd. If the police believe the passage of time on the murder of 21 innocent people means they should not continue to do the job they are employed to do, then what on earth is the point of 'Yewtree'?

Yewtree is the police investigation into the alleged sexual abuse - mainly against children launched in October 2012 by the Metropolitan Police. On the back of this, the publicist Max Clifford was recently sentenced to 8 years for a series of indecent assaults against young women during the 1970s & 1980s.

But, and here's the crux. How come the Metropolitan Police force and the CPS have been so pro-active on these 'cold-cases' that are predominantly based on circumstantial evidence, yet West Midlands Police have no interest in pursuing the pub bombers?

As a family, we always welcome good news where criminals are caught and sentenced for their crimes, irrelevant of whatever time that has passed. But, what we cannot comprehend is the fact that no one in the British establishment seems to have any inclination to investigate the biggest unsolved mass murder of the 20th century in England. Is it me, or does this scream cover-up and conspiracy?

28 March 2014 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

'Blair must reap what he sowed'

On Sunday 23 March 2014, my family were honoured to meet a group of victims' families and survivors of terrorist attacks from Northern Ireland. A group of 45 came to our great city to first pay their respects at the National Arboretum on Saturday and the following day we had arranged with the Malmaison hotel to host a short conference and networking event.

There was a range of people at the conference, from survivors from the Enniskillen, Claudy & Birmingham terrorist atrocities. Also in attendance was Ann Travers whose sister, Mary, was shot in the back of the head by IRA gunmen as she left Sunday Mass, where the gunmen continued to shoot her father six times after killing his daughter in front of his eyes.

There are over 3,500 innocent victims who have been murdered in terrorist attacks during the past four decades or so. The stark reality of such losses is that there are more than 20,000 people still mourning the loss of their family members and friends who grieve every day. They are faced with the fact that our politicians on the mainland (UK) have abandoned the sanctity of justice in the name of 'peace'. .. or at least that is what they say.

It is not possible to have peace or to 'move forward' (another favourite sound bite our MPs like to use) when there are still so many unanswered questions and still so much injustice. Without Truth and Justice, there can never be 'Peace'. The murder of 3,500 innocent unarmed civilians, where to date, not one person has been sentenced or even investigated. This is not a 'perceived' injustice, this is a fact, there has been no justice.

The so called 'Good Friday Agreement' has not been the panacea that most people thought it would be. If anything, the 'peace process' is hanging in the balance on very thin ice, especially in light of the latest devious immoral & corrupt dealings conducted by Tony Blair & Peter Hain with the 'on the run' (OTRs) letters. Many commentators have stated recently that this latest indictment of pandering to such an organisation such as Sinn Fein and their collaborators has sent the 'peace process' back 20 years. Blair and Hain must now reap what they sowed.

That is why it is imperative that every one should write to their MPs demanding a Full Judicial Public Inquiry according to the Inquiries Act 20005. This would compel witnesses like Blair & Hain to give evidence and would provide the opportunity for victims and survivors to tell their 'story'. If we all do not act now, who knows what government will continue to try and 'slip in' behind closed doors? Is a dictatorship something you want your children and grandchildren to live in, where one rule of law applies to you and no laws apply to those in government? You may think my thoughts are rather outlandish, however, consider this... a group of known terrorists who should be locked up forever, have been given assurances that they are either, not currently 'wanted' by police or have been given a Royal Pardon. If you had known of these facts prior to them being implemented, I am sure you would not have agreed to them being put into practice then or now.

For us, the OTRs have become the ultimate nadir in our justice system. It is extremely worrying to think that there is a dichotomy in our judiciary, where those who implement the laws do not abide by them, but we must!

14 March 2014 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

A 'Clear Denial of Natural Justice'

As a family of a victim of terrorism, the news of the on the run (OTR) immunity letters opened up an already raw wound and left us utterly outraged.

Imagine if you can, your mother, father, sibling, husband or wife being blown up beyond recognition and then finding out years later that those responsible, whether they are caught, or not will never serve time.

This is the reality that all the families and survivors of the Birmingham Pub Bombings are now faced with alongside thousands of other families throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland.

For it is our belief that those responsible for the Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush attacks are known to the police, but have received letters assuring them they won't face prosecution.

The issue is a fast developing one.

You will have read in the Birmingham Mail and Sunday Mercury and on social media sites of the Downing Street protest we carried out last weekend.

As I write this, we understand that West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones is arranging a meeting between our families and the Chief Constable Chris Sims to discuss our concerns over this pressing issue.

We hope it can take place promptly.

A separate meeting which we were promised, to inform us of developments following a near two-year review of evidence into the pub bombings should have been held last month.

It is now fixed for April - but only because we have repeatedly pressed for it.

As far as the immunity letters go, Paul Givan, a DUP member, summed up the issue pretty well while speaking at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

He said there had been "a clear denial of natural justice", where the likes of Tony Blair and Peter Hain had behaved with an act equivalent to an act of treachery against the citizens of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Another DUP member, Jeffrey Donaldson said the very people who are meant to serve and represent us, are the very same people who have done dirty deals behind closed doors that not even members of the Privy Council are aware of.

How is this possible, in a country that claims to be a Democratic society?

What is the point of our MPs setting legislation that they are not even prepared to abide by themselves!? Under the current paradox adopted by the likes of Tony Blair and Peter Hain it would appear absurd to implement any further legislation.

If they choose to abdicate the laws they helped to execute then why bother having any at all? After all, are they not meant to set the benchmark for the rest of us to follow?

What kind of a society have we become, where we allow mass murderers to walk free and provide them with documentation assuring each recipient that they will not be prosecuted?

The QC for John Downey, who was suspected of the 1982 Hyde Park bombing in which four soldiers were murdered, said "it would be a breach of trust in the UK Government" if his trial were to proceed.

What about all those who survived terrorist attacks with life changing injuries and all the families who lost loved ones in terrorist atrocities?

As a matter of urgency, we call on everyone in Birmingham and the whole of the UK to write to their MPs and demand a Full Judicial Public Inquiry under the Inquiries Act of 2005.

This would mean that this would be a public hearing, where witnesses would be compelled to give evidence.

The Review that David Cameron agreed to over a week ago, is to see if the 'letters of comfort' were issued in error (they should never have been issued at all!). This will not be a transparent review and was only put in place to pacify the First Minister Peter Robinson, after he threatened to resign upon hearing of the letters.

We must fight for a Full Judicial Public Inquiry in order for us to discover the following:

  • The names
  • What they were suspected to have done
  • Who knew about the scheme
  • When they knew
  • Vitally, we need the letters to be rescinded so that no further prosecutions end up like Hyde Park.

In our opinion Hain and Blair are a disgrace to not only our political system but also to the UK's Judicial system. They have no courage or honour toward their own citizens, who paid their salaries for so long.

Instead they have been pandering to the few who continually pontificate to our government to acquiesce to their dirty callous secrets so no one ever does time. What kind of a system is that?

Who is to say that the two who murdered Lee Rigby (God rest his soul) might not try and further adulterate the law to suit their own ends? Consider the OTR letters... no one would have thought that possible, but here we are...

My family would like to thank our campaign supporters for their valuable time and continued staunch support on Saturday.

Our sincere gratitude and thanks goes out to Mike who coordinates everyone to attend such events, with his strong spirit of conviction to put an awful 'wrong' to be put 'right'. These incredibly kind and generous people come in their own time and leave the likes of many in politics in the shade.

Huge thanks go to a group of remarkable chaps, Mark, Paul, John, Dandy, Frank, Jamie, Pugh, Blackie, Jay, Chris and Roly.

Without these exceptional people, we would not be where we are today. There are, of course, many more extraordinary individuals out there who choose to remain anonymous, but we want each and every one of our supporters to know how grateful we are and always will be.

07 March 2014 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

Their silence and inaction is insulting

From Justice4the21 campaign's inception, our supporters, and family have been writing to their MPs and senior politicians in both the House of Commons and Lords as well as senior officers at West Midlands Police.

The majority of the responses have been homogeneous. A few appeared to be very supportive, only for them to not follow through with what they initially proposed.

Last year I wrote to five Lords. Only one responded, stating that my request for him to assist us was out of his remit but he would make enquiries on our behalf. Within a fortnight I heard again from him, informing me that due to the lapse in time, there was nothing that he could do to assist us.

I responded immediately, informing him that time is not the issue where mass murder is concerned, as there is no statute of limitations on murder in the UK (thank goodness).

The only issue is that those who are in a position of power, who have the resources and facilities to do something to bring about justice, choose to do nothing. This, to all our supporters, the survivors and the families of the murdered is tantamount to moral and ethical turpitude.

But at least this Lord replied, albeit unsatisfactorily from our point of view.

I wrote to the Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper four times last year over a period of six months, to her constituency office and to the Houses of Parliament (all recorded delivery). I am still awaiting a response.

I also wrote to Ed Miliband. A reply came from his office, which indicates that he did not read my letter, but his 'office' saw fit to dismiss my correspondence. They did this so by informing me that they were forwarding on my concerns to, guess who.... yes, Yvette Cooper.

This, despite me highlighting in my letter the utter lack of courtesy demonstrated by her.

This is just one example of how we have been continually ignored and treated as an inconvenience. To think, these people want to get into Government to run our country and want us to vote for them!

Another prime example is from the interview I gave on the BBC's Sunday Politics show nearly three weeks ago. When pressed by Peter Burns for an answer on why high ranking members of their parties had not responded to our correspondence, both the Justice Minister Jeremy Wright and John Spellar MP both clearly stated they would "certainly look into that."

Guess what? To date we are still waiting.

Both these politicians changed the subject to refer instead to the release of the Birmingham Six, dismissing the fact that there remains one of the biggest injustices in England yet to be solved.

If anyone would like to write to these gentlemen to remind them of their 'words' asking when we may get some kind of reply and/or recognition, it would be most appreciated.

The most important point Peter Burns raised was when he asked Mr Wright: "Another big problem is that the case is covered by one of those Public Interest Immunity Certificates, which is like a guarantee of silence in effect for 75 years.... when you have such secrecy like that it is bound to embolden those who have alleged conspiracy theories. Surely we need a bright light on the inquiry as Julie said? "

Mr Wright replied: "Well there are huge challenges when dealing with security information and I agree with John (Spellar MP) that shouldn't prevent West Midlands Police looking again if they believe they have new evidence or even if they have evidence that wasn't properly scrutinised in the first place, it doesn't prevent them doing that and that's what they should do if such evidence comes to light."

What Mr Wright failed to highlight, is that the Public Interest Immunity Certificate holds all the answers to our questions and holds all the relevant names and data on the truth.

Our question is this. Why is this file being kept closed for so long, if the police and the Government have nothing to hide? Would it not be financially and judicially more prudent to make these files available to all concerned parties as a way expediting justice that will lead to the truth Or is this too simple?

Or do these files have the potential to open up a Pandora's box that could put certain individuals and organisations in a light that they would prefer not to be switched on?

Where does that leave the relatives of of the 21 innocents who were so brutally murdered? What about the 182 who survived and have to live with these horrific memories day in day out?

The benchmark of any civilized society can be measured in a number of ways, one of those being, by the quality of its justice system.

Bearing this in mind, if our Government and West Midlands Police are not prepared to investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators what does this say about how politicians and police force, view 'ordinary folk' who are murdered en masse?

Their silence and inaction is insulting. To be treated with such irreverence by the very people who should be protecting us and looking for the perpetrators is reprehensible.

I want to end the column this week with two things.

One is to say thanks the local Drakes Drum football team who support our campaign by wearing our logo on their shirts.

This really means a great deal to us because by doing so it gets our name and message across to a different, younger audience. Good luck this weekend lads!

The other is to remind people of our 40th anniversary commemorative concert at Birmingham Town Hall on Thursday, November 20. Please block the date off in your diaries because this will be an historic event and we would love your support. More details soon.

14 February 2014 - Birmingham Mail - by Brian Hambleton Justice4the21: What have the police got to hide?

 

I hope I'm wrong and that the West Midlands Police oligarchy will break with tradition, put the interests of the families of victims first for once and not drag out making an announcement on whether a fresh investigation into the Birmingham Pub Bombings will take place.

We were promised months ago that we would have a definitive answer by this month, and I think that the 18 months West Midlands Police have had to assess the existing evidence, as well as hopefully evaluating new information - some of which we have pointed them in the direction of - is time enough for our families to be given an answer, one way or the other.

It seems to me that we have the unsolved mass murder of 21 poor souls , and new information which has surfaced since the release of the Birmingham Six, some of it naming names and alleging culpability, yet this does not seem to have been met with so much as a cursory glance by the police force responsible.

That, in all honesty, gives anyone a fair indication of the level of interest at Lloyd House in solving this case, ie. not much.

Regardless of the route police wish to take, we have repeatedly assured the authorities, we won't be going away.

If police refuse to do the right thing and re-investigate, it'll change nothing, we will continue to campaign for that outcome.

If the authorities realise that this stage of the game is up and it's time to at least go through the motions, we will be there in the background ensuring no stone is left unturned.

We've learned so much in the two years we've been campaigning.

It's amazing how much information regarding the case is actually out there, but you do have to search for it. We've refrained from revealing much of what we've learned up to now as we didn't want to be accused of prejudicing any prospective prosecution.

Added to our own investigations, the publicity the Justice4the21 campaign has generated has resulted in the matter becoming more high profile and more information has come to the fore as a result.

As has been mentioned before in the Birmingham Mail, we've long suspected that there are certain secrecy restrictions in place regarding information surrounding the pub bombings.

We have asked the police about this and written to the Crown Prosecution Service, but they denied knowledge of anything being attached to the pub bombings evidence.

We weren't asking for state secrets to be revealed, weren't asking anything specific, not even the nature of any embargo, just if any order existed.

We have now confirmed, obviously not from the authorities but from the irrepressible Paddy Hill , that a 75-year Public Interest Immunity certificate is in force regarding the Birmingham Pub Bombings inquiry.

I would suggest that of all the people whose 'interests' that certificate serves, the general public come way down the list.

It has been put in place by the authorities who we as citizens presume are there to protect us.

And so it obviously begs the question - what have they got to hide?

7 February 2014 - Birmingham Mail - by Phil Hatton

THE historic 40th anniversary of the Birmingham pub bombings will be commemorated by finishing a rock concert that had to be abandoned on the night the bombers struck.

The blasts were heard and felt in Birmingham Town Hall on November 21, 1974, just as Welsh rockers Man were about to go on stage.

The explosions caused pandemonium inside and outside the venue, with the group abandoning the show and the stunned audience being urged to stay inside until it was declared safe to leave.

Now campaign group Justice4the21 has hired the Town Hall on November 20 this year, to commemorate the lives of the 21 victims who died in the outrages at The Mulberry Bush and The Tavern in the town.

Part of the evening will see rock bands and musicians "finishing" the original concert that had to be scrapped.

And J4the21 are trying to track down members of the original line-up of Man in a bid to reunite them.

They will also use the occasion to say a proper thank-you to the heroes of the emergency services who battled to save lives and transport more than 200 injured people to local hospitals.

J4the21 campaigner Phil Hatton said: "On the night of the bombings "Man" were about to perform on stage at the Town Hall when, just after 8pm, the first of the bombs went off in the Mulberry Bush pub.

"A second explosion followed a few minutes later - it was the other bomb planted in the Tavern in the Town.

"The force of the blasts were felt and heard in the Town Hall, which is just a few hundred yards away, causing pandemonium inside and outside the venue. The audience were advised to stay inside until it was declared safe to leave and, of course, the group's performance was cancelled.

"The perpetrators of this carnage wanted to drive a wedge in our community between those of different ideologies and religions.

"Well, they may have stopped the song that night but they haven't stopped the music.

"And here we are in 2014 showing the world that multicultural and multi-racial citizens of Birmingham can live together in peace and harmony.

"This year's concert will be held to commemorate the lives of the 21 victims who died.

"We would like to thank city leader Sir Albert Bore for his support in making this possible and for the musicians who will be performing.

"We already have the great Steve Gibbons band, Quill with top vocalist Joy Strachan-Brain and up and coming Brummie group Winston's Big Brother who, with ex ELO member Dave Morgan will perform a song called 21 Today, 21 Yesterday, 21 Tomorrow.

"And we will will announce other well known local musicians who will be appearing later in the year, as well as unveiling other things which will happen on the night.

" We would like to thank Jim Simpson of Big Bear Records and the Birmingham Jazz Festival who is helping to organise the concert and also Terry Lee, founder of world renowned stage lighting company Light and Sound Design and Chris Cronin, of Total Fabrication Solutions for offering their support.

"Terry was in the Tavern in the Town five minutes before the explosion and was walking up New Street towards Bogarts when it detonated.

" This year Big Bear records will also release a CD of songs by various Midland Musicians in support of Justice4the21."

If you are in a group or are a songwriter and would like to contribute a song please contact phil@philhatton.com

The following night, the annual candlelit vigil for those who died and were injured will take place in the grounds of St Philip's Cathedral. Last year around 200 gathered for that event.

Julie Hambleton, whose sister, Maxine was one of those murdered, said: "We also want the occasion to say a proper thank you to the emergency service heroes and all the others who tried to help on that dreadful night - for example, the taxi drivers who ferried so many of those who had been hurt to hospital.

"We've never really had the chance to do this before, and after 40 years we want to put that right

"We will be announcing details over tickets later, but I must stress we are non-political, non-profit making group and any proceeds will go to a local charity

J4the21 is campaigning for a fresh inquiry into the pub bombings in a bid to find the bombers and get to the truth behind what happened on that night, which saw the biggest ever mass murder in the West Midlands.

The IRA is widely believed to be responsible, though it has always formally denied it.

9 January 2014 - Birmingham Mail - by Brian Hambleton Justice4The21 - The campaign to find the Birmingham pub bombers

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As we move deeper into 2014, my family and I would like to thank all our supporters close and afar for their hard work and unswerving loyalty in assisting our campaign for justice.

Without their help we surely wouldn't have progressed to our present position.

This year is set to be a momentous one for us.

For one thing it will mark the 40th anniversary of when the pub bombers brought mass murder to Birmingham.

We have many plans for the coming 12 months, some already quite detailed, others in the early stages.

You can rest assured you will be able to follow us regularly with the Birmingham Mail.

Taking stock of last year, one most poignant moments was obviously meeting Paddy Hill.

It was an extremely painful and gut wrenching experience but it produced the unbelievable result of him agreeing to help and assist our campaign and making available the many volumes of paperwork relating to his wrongful arrest.

This was a defining moment for us.

After studying some of them it became clear they contain information which has always been flatly refused us by West Midlands Police.

Researching them has left me disturbed and upset by what West Midlands Police did and did not do.

In my opinion, the more you read and study them, it is disturbingly obvious what a gigantic conspiracy we as a group are fighting against, a true David and Goliath-type issue.

What's even more painful to say is that when we meet senior police management, they look us in the eye and talk about the length of time it is taking to decide whether it will be the right thing to open a fresh inquiry into who massacred 21 people, my sister, Maxine included, in two Brum pubs.

This decision will be given to us in a meeting at Lloyd House next month.

What is to decide? Isn't solving crime like this - surely the worst crime ever in Birmingham - what they are paid to do, along with protecting human life?

I feel they treat us as if they feel we have a bovine mentality, hoping or believing that we may eventually fade away.

But I can assure you their steely defence against our campaign for the truth only empowers us all the more.

We will not give up. It's as simple as that.

Not until we get to the truth of this matter and that justice is done, in so far as it can be done now after the passing of all these years.

Last year also saw Justice4the21 outside the Warrington Peace Centre for the visit of Martin McGuinness and at the Irish Centre in Camden, London, where Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams was speaking.

They had both been invited to the UK mainland to speak about truth and reconciliation.

We are all for truth and peace but believe it cannot come about until justice is done - justice not only for our loved ones in Birmingham, but all the victims of the Troubles.

We made our opinions known about both men at the time and received extensive publicity. They now seem lauded and applauded by Government figures.

As for us, we feel abandoned by the Government and West Midlands Police. The one consolation for us is this.

The word 'Great' seems to have faded from the title of our Britain, but you can rest assured it has not faded from the Great British public.

We are so grateful to all the Great British public who support and encourage us as a group.

We intend to carry on our fight for the truth and justice for our loved ones until we achieve it.

3 January 2014 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

IN this week's column I would like to highlight our concern about something which has made headlines in Northern Ireland which could have a profound effect on our own campaign for justice - but seems to have barely caused a ripple of interest in the UK.

I'm talking about the Haass proposals. Richard Haass is an American diplomat who has chaired inter-party talks in Northern Ireland aimed at addressing some of the unresolved issues from the peace process. He has now made proposals to the five political parties in office at Stormont, Northern Ireland.

Whenever the media cover the Haass proposals the first issues they discuss are those of disputes surrounding parades and flags. While these issues are significant, particularly in Northern Ireland, it is another proposal that causes us grave concern. It is the potential for those who have committed murder getting an 'amnesty' or 'immunity' for any crime committed prior to 1998, when the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) was implemented.

In simplistic terms, Haass is trying to get the parties to agree to allowing perpetrators of murderous acts, the opportunity of admitting to crimes committed, and in return, never having to face prosecution or loss of freedom by serving a term in prison. Think through, for a moment, the ramifications of that in relation to the Birmingham Pub Bombings, widely accepted, of course, to be the responsibility of the IRA.

It appears that Sinn Fein and Martin McGuinness are more than happy to sign up to such an agreement. He was quoted recently as saying that the "unionists have been dancing to the tune of extremists". Let's be clear on this, the 'extremists' he refers to are actually the innocent survivors and family members of those who were callously murdered in terrorist attacks.

If Haass gets his way, relatives of the 3,500 innocents murdered during the Troubles of the past 40 years will have no prospect of obtaining justice for their dearly loved, long lost ones. Their memories will be trampled underfoot by politicians willing to sacrifice the possibility of any prosecutions in order to keep their own agenda on track.

And for what? The judiciary revoking any legal or moral duty to punish murderers under the law.

So far it has been rejected but the worrying thing is that when you throw an idea out there, no matter how outrageous and then let it linger in people's psyche, after a while, it's no longer as outrageous as first appeared. As the sister of one murdered in the Birmingham Pub Bombings, knowing the name of the perpetrator(s) without a subsequent prosecution will not make the loss easier to bear.

It won't bring her back. There is nothing that could possibly make up for her loss.

But the fact that someone could own up to this murderous act with immunity is utterly incomprehensible. Of course, we were able to lay my sister to rest. We were fortunate, if that term can used in any such circumstances, that she was not one of the 'disappeared' - those whose bodies have never been recovered. Whilst we do not live in Northern Ireland and our knowledge of the Troubles is limited, the outcome of these talks has the potential to affect us all.

It is a worrying issue and one which Justice 4 the 21 is monitoring very closely.