Justice for the 21

1 December 2015 - Birmingham city fan hold minute's applause in tribute to Birmingham Pub Bombing Victims

Video: Birmingham City fans hold minute's applause in tribute to Birmingham Pub Bombing victims

By Brian Dick
http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/video-birmingham-city-fans-hold-8206433

13 October 2015 - New Charity 21 Today CD featuring Brummie acts to be released in memory of pub bomb victims

New charity CD featuring Brummie acts to be released in memory of city pub bombings victims

By Andy Richards
http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/new-charity-cd-featuring-brummie-10229881

Roy Wood, Steve Gibbons and Dave Scott-Morgan among those involved in tribute CD: 21 Today 

A CD compiled in memory of the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings will be on sale as another anniversary of the tragedy is marked.
It will feature tracks by Roy Wood, who has also designed the CD cover and others including Steve Gibbons, Geoff Turton and Dave Scott Morgan.
The CD, called 21 Today will feature 21 songs in memory of the 21 victims who died in IRA bomb attacks on The Tavern in the Town and The Mulberry Bush on November 20, 1974.
The man behind the CD, Phil Hatton, said: “Last year on November 20 various Birmingham musicians performed in front of a sold out Town Hall audience who came to celebrate the lives and memory of the 21 pub bombing victims.
“The event was also to thank the fire, police and ambulance services as well as the taxi drivers and citizens who helped the dying and injured on that most tragic night in Birmingham’s history.
“The atmosphere and love generated for the victims inside the Town Hall last year was heartwarming to all who attended and the proceeds from the concert were shared between local children’s charities.
“This November, once again, 21 Birmingham bands have united to record their own songs in memory of the victims.
“A thousand copies of a limited edition double CD will be released on Jim Simpson’s Big Bear record label to raise funds for the Acorn Children’s Hospice.
“Justice 4 the 21 would like to thank Roy Wood for designing the cover of the CD and for contributing an original song and Jasper Carrott for writing a foreword to the sleevenotes.”
Also on the CD are Quill, King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys, Bitty Mclean, Geoff Turton of the Rockin Berries, Steve Gbbons, Electric Swing Circus, Robin George, Phil Picket, Vix from Fuzzbox, Mike Kllie of Spooky Tooth, former ELO musician Dave Scott-Morgan, Blackfoot Sue and also up and coming Birmingham musicians Steady Hands and Chris Tye.
Phil added: “We would also like to ask for support from local businesses and companies in funding the production costs of 21 Today and are still seeking 21 sponsors to pledge £100 each in return for having their company credited on the sleevenote.
The release date of the CD, which is being produced by former UB40 Sound Engineer Alan Caves, and the cost are being finalised and will be announced shortly.
* If you can help sponsor the CD email Justice4the21@hotmail.co.uk or andy.richards@trinitymirror.com

25 September 2015 - Sharing a harrowing depth of loss

By: Julie Hambleton
LAST weekend, our family joined other victims’ families and survivors of terrorism who had travelled from Northern Ireland to pay respects at the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) in Staffordshire.
If you have never visited the NMA, it is very special. It offers us the opportunity to pay homage to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the past 100 years or so. It is a place for military families and friends to remember those they have lost and for all of us to pay our respects.
From the NMA, we travelled to Manchester to spend time with people who unfortunately know, understand and share the harrowing depth of loss and grief created by terrorists. Everyone had agonizing memories to share. It is impossible to separate one horror from another. 
For example, when a life is taken in such a cowardly act, by planting a bomb (we met with a sister whose brother was blown up in his car) or a shot to the head (sometimes after being tortured for days on end). It is inconceivable for the families, or anyone, to comprehend such wanton killing. And for what?
We met survivors from two separate terrorist attacks that took place on the mainland of the UK.
Each have their own nightmares that they live with every day, not only in terms of their physical injuries that continue to plague their lives, but also the psychological injuries too. 
Post­Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is mostly associated with soldiers who have faced the horror of war, is something that survivors of terrorism have had to try and deal with for decades on their own. The problem is, that the UK Government, past and present, have largely wiped their hands of these people.
Typically the victims were simply going about their business, only to find themselves waking up in hospital with physical and psychological life changing injuries. And to which they have received no support from anywhere.
To put this into perspective, survivors of terrorism in Northern Ireland, thankfully, are provided with a range of support mechanisms in terms of counselling, financial assistance etc. But mainland UK survivors receive nothing and are ignored by their own Government, to the point where they seem to be viewed as an inconvenience.
Those in the highest echelons of the British establishment seem to have no interest in them and absolutely no wish to help them or acknowledge their existence.
What kind of a society are we leaving for future generations to inherit, where victims of such abhorrent acts of violence are left without any help and where the murderers are allowed to walk free forever?
We Brits are extremely generous and give to domestic and international charities all the time, taking pride in assisting others who are less fortunate than ourselves. 
But imagine you have lost the use your left arm due to a bomb blast. Or you have damaged part of your spine, making standing up straight and walking painful. You have no money, no family, you’re in pain all the time.
Your Government ignore you, and you have no assistance because your injuries are not recognised as being anything ‘out of the ordinary’. How would you cope? What would you do? These people have been ignored for too long. What will it take for their needs to be recognised once and for all?
Julie Hambleton
Justice4the21
Website: www.justice4the21.co.uk
Email: justice4the21@hotmail.co.uk
Twitter @justice4the21

 

14 August 2015 - Paddy Hill presents potential new evidence relating to Birmingham pub bombings to police

By Nick McCarthy: 
http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/paddy-hill-presents-potential-new-9859234

Paddy Hill and Justice4the21 campaigner Brian Hambleton hand over 'game changer' document 

West Midlands Police have vowed to examine potential new Birmingham Pub Bombingsevidence detailed in the unpublished memoirs of a former firefighter.

Birmingham Six member Paddy Hill and Brian Hambleton, from Justice4the21, met with Assistant Chief Constable Michele Larmour to hand over the new documents.

ACC Larmour said she would pass them to counter terrorism officers, adding that their examination would be “prioritised”.

The men presented the force with sections of an as yet unpublished memoir written by former West Midlands firefighter, Alan Hill, who was on duty on the night of the bombings.

Mr Hill, who died recently, presents new information about the bombs and both Paddy and Brian are calling on West Midlands Police to investigate.

The men delivered the documents on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Birmingham Six being wrongly convicted of the bombings - still the biggest miscarriage of justice in British criminal history.

The Six served almost 17 years behind bars before their convictions were declared unsafe and unsatisfactory and quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1991.

Today's meeting was the first time that Paddy has met face-to-face with any West Midlands officers since he was wrongly convicted of the bombings in 1975.

Paddy, now 69, said: “I don’t trust Birmingham police at all, but this officer will know about terrorism having come from Northern Ireland.

“She seemed to be genuine and honest and we have to take her at her word.

“We all have elderly relatives who are coming to the end of their lives. Sadly my mother and father have gone. But I would like to see the truth so that my other relatives can go to their graves knowing the truth.

“The police have never promised me anything, but they have promised Brian and Julie Hambleton so much and have given absolutely nothing, wasting years of their lives by telling lies, lies and lies.

“This is now the time for them to stand up and tell the truth. We know we can’t get justice, but we can at least get the truth about what happened that night.”

He said he was supporting moves by Justice4the21 to get the Attorney General to re-open inquests into those who died, for they were never formally concluded.

Brian, whose sister Maxine was among the 21 people killed when bombers struck at the Tavern in the Town and the Mulberry Bush, said: “I spent about 10 hours with Alan chatting about this before his death.

“What is recorded in his memoirs is a real game changer. We are convinced that there is new evidence that could be used to bring the bombers to justice.

“I have so little trust in West Midlands Police that I would prefer a third party force to examine the claims. I want this information to be looked at carefully and I don’t want to hear any excuses.

“It is the first time that I have met with ACC Larmour and she has told me that it will be scrutinised and that we will be updated on any progress.”

Assistant Chief Constable Michele Larmour joined West Midlands Police in June after previously working for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

She said: “Mr Hill and Mr Hambleton handed over a document, which is a number of pages in length.

“I have taken possession of the documents and will be passing them on to counter terrorism officers. They will be scrutinising this new information to see if there are any opportunities for new lines of inquiry so that those responsible can be brought to justice for this terrible atrocity in 1974.

“We will prioritise the examination of the documents and will provide feedback in due course.

“Any opportunity that West Midlands Police has for pursuing any new lines of inquiry, or information will be progressed.

“We are very mindful of the agony and pain that the families and the victims have suffered for such an extended period of time.”

19 May 2015 - Preserving the History of the Birmingham Pub Bombings19 05

Preserving the History of the Birmingham Pub Bombings

 By: Professor Gavin Schaffer, University of Birmingham

The events of the 21st November 1974 changed lives in Birmingham and beyond for generations. Alongside the 21 who lost their lives and the nearly 200 injured, families, friends and communities were left in a state of trauma, which they still in many cases carry with them to this day. Birmingham’s Irish communities, so central to the building and development of our city and its culture, became victims of violence and discrimination, held responsible for actions of terrorists that had nothing to do with them, while they too had to mourn their share of dead and injured.
 
In the aftermath of the 40th anniversary of the pub bombings, historians at the University of Birmingham are working to develop a new archive, which will preserve the memories of those affected by the bombings, giving to future generations an insight into the long term impact of terrorism on our city. We want to safeguard this sad and difficult piece of our past, and believe that we need to do so now, before it is too late to record the voices of the people that were there.
 
The University team are consulting with community stakeholders in a number of ways to make this happen. We are working closely with the Friends of Birmingham Archives and Heritage, Justice for the 21, and are meeting with representatives of the Irish community in Digbeth next week. As a city-wide project, we hope such consultations will allow for all members of Birmingham’s communities to participate in this research and have an opportunity to raise concerns or questions.
 
At the core of the project, we are looking to interview people whose lives were changed for good by the events of the 21st November, those who lost loved ones or were injured in the bombings, and also people who suffered discrimination, or were traumatised in other ways. On the 11th June we are holding a witness seminar at the University. This event will offer an opportunity to listen to some of the memories of those directly affected by the pub bombings. Alan Hill (a fireman) and Eric Noble (a policeman) will share recollections of trying to help victims in the wake of the attacks, Julie Hambleton will talk about her family’s bereavement, and Robyn Tighe about her experiences as a victim of the bombings. We also hope to give audience members an opportunity to share some of their own memories in a safe and supportive environment. The seminar won’t be open to the press, but will be recorded for the archive.

 

If you are willing to be interviewed as part of the broader project, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch with us at birminghampubbombings@gmail.com.

17 March 2015 - Acorns Trust benefits from Justice4the21 Charity Concert

Acorns Trust benefits from Justice4the21 charity concert

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/acorns-trust-benefits-justice4the21-charity-8631635

IT was humbling and a privilege to visit the Acorns Trust recently to hand over half of the proceeds from November’s memorable 21-Today charity concert.
The event raised a total of £6,059 and is being split between Acorns and Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
I’m so glad we decided to help both these very deserving organisations - I think we made the right choice.
Acorns is clearly a place of comfort, fun and very welcoming. It isn’t stuffy or a sad place, it is a haven for children and their families to go during their darkest moments, but where they will be able to share some of their happiest memories together.
Words fail me in many ways. We are full of admiration for the work of Acorns. Please, can I urge everyone to continue to support it at every opportunity?
I feel that the 21 people, my sister Maxine included, who we lost in the pub bombings 40 years ago would have been as moved and proud as we were.
The visit confirmed our belief that, while Justice4the21 spends much time looking back in our search for the truth, it is also right to look forward to invest in helping children and young people both now and in the future.
The visit was the culmination of a lot of hard work by a terrific band of volunteers, the incredibly kind and generous people who helped put the sell-out show together - and to all those who attended and supported us so generously, in the way in which genuine Birmingham people do.
It has always been our determination to be absolutely transparent in handling money - Justice 4 the 21 does not raise any money for itself.
We have no funds of our own and all the money from the show will go to the charities.
The full amount raised was £ 6,743, including £180 from programme sales and £60 from CD sales.
But out of that we had to pay £24 for the printing of the programmes, £120 for a buffet for the artist and £540 for the sound equipment hire.
This left us with £6,059 for the charities
We intend to present a further cheque for £3,029 to Birmingham Children’s Hospital shortly.
I do hope that, while we continue to battle with the authorities to uncover the truth behind November 21, 1974, we will be able to help needy charities too.
Once again, my heartfelt thanks to all who continue to support and back us.
<p/>
Julie Hambleton.
21Today Factfile
The 21 Today concert was staged as part of a series of commemorative events marking the 40th anniversary of the Birmingham pub bombings.
It was held the night before the annual service of remembrance at St Philip’s Cathedral.
Julie said: “The show was a celebration and it complemented the other events.
“We wanted to celebrate the lives of those we lost, the joy and happiness they brought to us.
“We also wanted to celebrate the fantastic work the fire service and taxi drivers did on the night, along with the ambulance service, the police and the Salvation Army, who were also on the scene.
“And we wanted to celebrate the fact that, although the bombers left many dead, they could never kill the spirit of the people in our great city.”
Held in the Town Hall, the show, was named in memory of the 21 people who lost their lives on the night of November 21, 1974.
The concert was compered by Carl Chinn and featured a glittering line-up of stars.
Among those performing on stage was Steve Gibbons, former ELO musicians Dave Scott-Morgan and Martin Smith, Dave Pegg, from Fairport Convention King Pleasure And The Biscuit Boys and classical musicians from Birmingham Conservatoire.
A special anthem, called 21 Today, was written by Dave and Phil Hatton and resulted in huge applause from an 800-strong crowd.
One of the most poignant moments of the evening was a performance by Birmingham Conservatoire musician Shi Ling Chin.
On the night of the tragedy the CBSO were playing at the Town Hall and concert-goers remember being told to go home promptly and not to loiter in the city because bombs had gone off.
At the show, Shi Ling Chin and other classical musicians performed part of the same work, giving a special link back to 1974.
Also performing were a group of former Birmingham Conservatoire students who were so moved by the Birmingham pub bombings that they wrote a song about it.
The group, called Steady Hands, performed the song, called Mulberry Bush.

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

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.

20 December 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

I would like to begin this week by wishing all Birmingham Mail readers a peaceful, memorable Christmas.

I know a good many of you support us - you'll never know how much that means to Justice4the21.

Others may just follow us out of curiosity via this column or other news, but thank you sincerely for your interest.

If you are in town tomorrow (Sat, Dec 21) we will be holding another signature collecting day from 10.30am until 3.30pm outside Marks & Spencer in the High Street.

I know everyone is very rushed for obvious reasons, but please spare us a few seconds to say hello and sign our petition.

We are calling for a new investigation into the Birmingham pub bombings urging the use of the latest forensic and scientific tests.

Every name we collect really counts.

Please sign for our sakes, for the sake of our city's history and for truth and justice to prevail.

For us, like a good many who have lost loved ones, Christmas will be a time of reflection and memories and so on. We ask ourselves 'what if this' or 'what if that' and so on.

Maxine would have been 57 had she lived, may be with children. Life for hundreds in the city would have been very different had the bombers never struck on that terrible night on November 21, 1974.

Of course, we can't change history, but we can change the future.

By learning lessons from the past and by building on a foundation of truth and justice.

This is something which has been denied the victims of the pub bombings for long enough.

We cannot rest until all avenues have been exhausted in pursuit of this.

Our campaign continues to steadily grow.

We were recently invited to attend the Traditional Unionist Voice's (TUV) political party conference in Northern Ireland recently where they had decided to devote the afternoon session to a Victim's Forum.

This was a truly emotional experience for all concerned. There were many people in attendance who had lost loved ones to terrorist attacks.

Listening to other people's loss and grief is extremely difficult for anyone, but even more so when you know exactly how deep rooted those feelings are. We all feel and share each other's pain and suffering.

It is like being in a club, but one that no one would choose to belong to if they had a choice.

On the Victim's Forum was John Radley (Lance Corporal in the Irish Guards) who was nearly killed by an IRA nail bomb in Chelsea Barracks Bomb attack over 30 years ago. John has had many operations and has had over 7,000 stitches with many more to come.

Ann Travers was there who has been fighting successfully alongside Mr Jim Allister QC MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) to get the law changed in Northern Ireland to prevent ex-terrorists who have served time for their crimes from being appointed into government positions.

Her sister was murdered in cold blood by IRA gunmen as she walked home from Sunday Mass. Her father was also shot six times but somehow survived. They also tried to shoot her mother but fortunately the gun jammed three times, while her mother was holding her daughter, Mary, in her arms.

Serena Hamilton also joined the forum. She has been fighting to bring the murderers of her father to justice for decades. He was shot at point blank range at work whilst changing into his uniform as an officer of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

We all fight for the same aim - justice and truth.

No one is born to be murdered. Those responsible for these heinous crimes must be brought to justice once and for all.

I should make it clear that even though the TUV are a political party, Justice4the21 is non-political. However we share the same fight for justice.

As a campaign we are prepared to speak with any political party who can assist us in our campaign.

We want no money, no apology, simply justice, nothing more, nothing less. For with justice will come truth.

I would like to thank Mr Jim Allister QC MLA and Mr Samuel Morrison for inviting us to their party conference.

It gave our campaign the opportunity to highlight our plight to those in Northern Ireland.

As a nation, we may be parted by water, but this does not in any way diminish the support and tight links we are building with the people of Northern Ireland.

We were treated with the utmost kindness and hospitality. It was a truly humbling experience.

All these people will be in our thoughts as Christmas arrives.

18 December 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

I would like to begin this week by wishing all Birmingham Mail readers a peaceful, memorable Christmas.

I know a good many of you support us - you'll never know how much that means to Justice4the21.

Others may just follow us out of curiosity via this column or other news, but thank you sincerely for your interest.

If you are in town tomorrow (Sat, Dec 21) we will be holding another signature collecting day from 10.30am until 3.30pm outside Marks & Spencer in the High Street.

I know everyone is very rushed for obvious reasons, but please spare us a few seconds to say hello and sign our petition.

We are calling for a new investigation into the Birmingham pub bombings urging the use of the latest forensic and scientific tests.

Every name we collect really counts.

Please sign for our sakes, for the sake of our city's history and for truth and justice to prevail.

For us, like a good many who have lost loved ones, Christmas will be a time of reflection and memories and so on. We ask ourselves 'what if this' or 'what if that' and so on.

Maxine would have been 57 had she lived, may be with children. Life for hundreds in the city would have been very different had the bombers never struck on that terrible night on November 21, 1974.

Of course, we can't change history, but we can change the future.

By learning lessons from the past and by building on a foundation of truth and justice.

This is something which has been denied the victims of the pub bombings for long enough.

We cannot rest until all avenues have been exhausted in pursuit of this.

Our campaign continues to steadily grow.

We were recently invited to attend the Traditional Unionist Voice's (TUV) political party conference in Northern Ireland recently where they had decided to devote the afternoon session to a Victim's Forum.

This was a truly emotional experience for all concerned. There were many people in attendance who had lost loved ones to terrorist attacks.

Listening to other people's loss and grief is extremely difficult for anyone, but even more so when you know exactly how deep rooted those feelings are. We all feel and share each other's pain and suffering.

It is like being in a club, but one that no one would choose to belong to if they had a choice.

On the Victim's Forum was John Radley (Lance Corporal in the Irish Guards) who was nearly killed by an IRA nail bomb in Chelsea Barracks Bomb attack over 30 years ago. John has had many operations and has had over 7,000 stitches with many more to come.

Ann Travers was there who has been fighting successfully alongside Mr Jim Allister QC MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) to get the law changed in Northern Ireland to prevent ex-terrorists who have served time for their crimes from being appointed into government positions.

Her sister was murdered in cold blood by IRA gunmen as she walked home from Sunday Mass. Her father was also shot six times but somehow survived. They also tried to shoot her mother but fortunately the gun jammed three times, while her mother was holding her daughter, Mary, in her arms.

Serena Hamilton also joined the forum. She has been fighting to bring the murderers of her father to justice for decades. He was shot at point blank range at work whilst changing into his uniform as an officer of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

We all fight for the same aim - justice and truth.

No one is born to be murdered. Those responsible for these heinous crimes must be brought to justice once and for all.

I should make it clear that even though the TUV are a political party, Justice4the21 is non-political. However we share the same fight for justice.

As a campaign we are prepared to speak with any political party who can assist us in our campaign.

We want no money, no apology, simply justice, nothing more, nothing less. For with justice will come truth.

I would like to thank Mr Jim Allister QC MLA and Mr Samuel Morrison for inviting us to their party conference.

It gave our campaign the opportunity to highlight our plight to those in Northern Ireland.

As a nation, we may be parted by water, but this does not in any way diminish the support and tight links we are building with the people of Northern Ireland.

We were treated with the utmost kindness and hospitality. It was a truly humbling experience.

All these people will be in our thoughts as Christmas arrives.

29 November 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

This week's column my family and I would like to use to publically express our sincere gratitude to all who turned out for this year's 39th Memorial. It was most heart warming to see so many people come to pay their respects. We were overwhelmed, especially when we were introduced to fellow victims' families and survivors from that evil night 39 years ago. We want each and every one of them to know that they touched us deeply when sharing their own experiences and memories of their loved ones and how this callous terrorist act continues to impact their lives on a daily basis. We fight for all families and survivors in equal measure.

It is two years since I applied for an e-petition, which began the emotional and painful path we now find ourselves treading.

Jessica Winch a journalist who was on secondment at the Birmingham Mail in January 2012, was the first journalist I had ever been interviewed by regarding the grief I continue feel for Maxine, my sister. The article Jessica wrote was profound and poignant. It was picked up by Adrian Goldberg who presents his own show on BBC Radio WM. Adrian invited Brian and I onto his show, where we were heard by Mike and some of his friends, one of whom contacted Adrian's show and offered to help us in our plight for justice. At first Brian and I were rather apprehensive, as we had never been offered any level of kindness or magnanimity before so we approached the offer with trepidation. We met Mike and some of his friends. The rest as they say is history.

In light of the 40th Memorial coming up we want to take this opportunity to once again to sing the praises of Mike and his 'band of brothers and sisters' who come from far and wide to support us. This group of individuals all have their own lives, with their own issues & concerns, but they give up their free time to come and help us collect signatures in Birmingham city centre. Some travel from as far as Kent and Wales! Without these people, we would not be where we are today with our campaign.

There are many other people who help us in a wide variety of ways, from designing our Billboard, and website to raising our profile, such as:

The Birmingham Mail - Drakes Drum Football Team - Dr Carl Chin - Mrs Star Etheridge

Signature Outdoor (Billboard company) - BBC Radio & TV, in particular Anthony Bartram & his fantastic cameramen - ITV Chris Halpin

Mr Peter Robinson - First Minister of Northern Ireland - Jimmy Birch, Community Leader in Northern Ireland - Mr Jim Allister QC MLA - Kenny Donaldson & Brian McConnell of Justice for Innocent Victims of Terrorism in NI - Ann Travers (a fellow victim) NI

The citizens of Birmingham. We need to stick together and force our MPs to raise this matter in the Houses of Parliament. The power of the people can win the day. We ask each and every one of you to please write to your local MP and put pressure on them to do the job they are paid to do - serve the people who pay their salaries. We are not only fighting for our loved ones, we are fighting for future generations, to guarantee that the core basics of our democratic society stay intact, where the rule of law will apply always.

Last but by no means least, our Mother. Mom has been our source of continued strength. She has faced many challenges with indomitable courage, bravery and sheer fortitude. She chooses to stay behind the scenes, which we will always respect. But, it is her anger, frustration and shared grief that keeps our fire burning for justice for all those concerned. No parent or sibling should ever have to be faced with identifying their loved one, only for the police and government to do nothing to bring the perpetrators to justice.

We fight so our Mother can maybe one day know that someone somewhere in authority illustrates that they do care about the murder of her daughter (our sister) and the murder of the other 20 innocents who were slaughtered in vain, leaving 182 maimed for life. There is no such thing as 'closure', but there is such a thing as Truth & Justice; Please help us in our fight for answers.

13 November 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Brian Hambleton

THE darker mornings are here already and the nights are drawing in too, as autumn speeds on.

For us that means that it will soon be time for another anniversary of the Birmingham pub bombings.

Birmingham's darkest night happened on November 21, 1974.

This November with be the 39th anniversary of the worst ever crime in our city.

Someone, or several people, planted bombs in The Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town.

When the pubs were full, shortly after 8pm, the devices exploded.

My sister, Maxine, was among 21 people who were killed. Almost 200 others were injured.

Of course, never a day goes by when my family don't remember this.

Like any family who loses someone, particularly in terrible circumstances, we cherish her memory in our hearts.

The fact that no-one has ever been brought to justice for this terrible crime makes our pain worse.

Regular readers of this column will know that it is our belief that there is no great will politically for this to ever be resolved.

The longer this goes on, the more our hurt intensifies - and the more our resolve deepens to fight for the truth and for justice.

We sometimes wonder that had the bombs gone off in pubs in London, rather than Birmingham, whether those in power would be so seemingly content to let matters rest?

Next year it will be the milestone 40th anniversary and we know there will be a huge amount of interest on that occasion, not only nationally but from around the world.

We have our own plans for 2014 to ensure all the victims are remembered properly and with dignity and respect and we'll be unveiling them in the coming months in the Birmingham Mail.

But this year's anniversary is equally important to us.

We are still finalising the details, but we shall be meeting in the grounds of St Philip's Cathedral in the early evening of November 21, 2013 and there will be a simple, small service at the memorial in the grounds there.

We have invited civic dignitaries, including all Birmingham councillors, and other guests.

But it is the support of the other people of the city which really inspires us.

I hestitate to call them "ordinary" Brummies, because they are not ordinary to us. They are inspirational.

Last year it was wonderful to be joined by a large number of people, some who we knew, but others who we didn't - workers on their way home, people living locally, who stood with us in solidarity for a few moments.

I think it's fair to say this event is growing each year.

So I'd like to extend an invitation to all Birmingham Mail readers to join with us this year.

It will show again that the 21 who were murdered will never be forgotten.

It is entirely free, we are not asking for any money from anyone. Just their moral support.

The backing we receive from people already touches us and encourages us enormously.

Please put the date in your diary and, if you can, join us on that night, if only for a few minutes.

9 November 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Mike Lockley

Campaigners who lost a beloved sister in the Birmingham pub bombings described shock talks with one of the men wrongly jailed for the IRA atrocity as "emotional torture".

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine died in the appalling massacre, said the face-to-face with Paddy Hill was "totally traumatic".

"I fell apart," she told the Birmingham Mail. "It was tantamount to emotional torture. I shut down and fell apart. I was grieving again. It was his association with what happened that night."

Mr Hill was one of six men whose convictions for instigating the horrors that befell The Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town 39 years ago were quashed in 1991. They had languished in prison since 1975.

Now 67, Mr Hill agreed to meet Julie and brother Brian Hambleton - driving forces behind campaign group Justice4the21 - at Warrington Peace Centre, built as a lasting reminder to the town's own terror attack.

It was a fraught, emotional meeting that brought back memories of the November night in 1974 when the couple lost 18-year-old Maxine.

She had walked into the Tavern in the Town only minutes before the blast to hand out party invitations.

Maxine and 20 others were killed. Almost 200 were injured.

During the meeting, Mr Hill:

  • Told the Hambletons he had given the name of three suspects to police - individuals whispered to have played a part in the massacre.
  • Spoke of his anger and revulsion over the cowardly attack.
  • Vowed to help in Julie and Brian's all-consuming quest to find those responsible.

Brian admitted to entering the meeting, arranged by the BBC, with one burning question: "You didn't do it, but do you know who did?"

He is no nearer to finding those with blood on their hands.

"It was traumatic," admitted Brian. "I was teetering on the edge. He is a frail man, but the vision of how he was when arrested is in our DNA. I was trying to be his tormentor.

"He appeared open and sympathetic. Remember, where we are going, whatever we find out, can only be of benefit to him."

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Brian wanted to know why Mr Hill - a man with no links to the IRA - had left the city shortly before the explosions to attend a terrorist's funeral. James McDade died while planting a bomb in Coventry.

He got a simple answer. "It was just a p***-up for the Irish community."

The historic Warrington meeting was in doubt until the very last moment, with Julie and Brian aware of a potential backlash in Birmingham.

"We were in a Catch 22," nodded Julie. "It took a lot of thought right up to the last minute. We knew he could be very helpful, but people on the outside could drop their support because of our association with him.

"I thought he'd be uncomfortable because he was speaking to people for the first time who had stepped forward, but he didn't appear to be fazed. To him, it was another meeting, but to us it was monumental.

"He said he was in favour of a united Ireland, but did not agree with how they have gone about trying to get it. He did not agree with their methods.

"He described the bombings as despicable.

"At the end of the day, he is in limbo and we are in limbo until the real killers are caught. He is, in essence, fighting for the very same thing we are fighting for."

Julie took a deep breath before pondering: "Was the meeting worth it? Only time will tell."

She added: "We went ahead with the meeting because, if we are to get to the truth, we recognise we will have to be brave - whether that is meeting someone like Mr Hill or protesting outside conferences involving people who we believe know the truth.

"We are prepared to do almost anything - provided it is legal and peaceful - in our fight for justice."

The Hambletons, who will never stop their search for answers, are well used to playing a waiting game.

The meeting is thought to be the first between any of the pub bombings victims and The Birmingham Six.

The IRA has never formally admitted responsibility for the bombing but recently former IRA commander Martin McGuinness said his "heart went out" to the victims and their families.

1 November 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

THE only official memorial to the 21 people killed in the Birmingham pub bombings has been given a long-overdue makeover.

The simple memorial, in the grounds of St Philip's Cathedral includes a plaque displaying a list of the names of those who died in the 1974 IRA attack.

But over the years it had become weather-beaten and worn to the extent that many people passed by it without realising what it was for.

But now, ahead of this week's (Nov 21) 39th anniversary of the bombings, it has been spruced up and cleaned thanks to the city council.

The names of those killed have also been painted in gold lettering.

The memorial will be the centre stage of a candle-lit vigil on Thursday night which has been organised by Justice for the 21, the group campaigning for the truth behind the terror attack.

Today, Julie and Brian, whose sister, Maxine, died in the attack, said: "We are very grateful that, at long last, the memorial has been restored.

"For too long it has been allowed to deteriorate.

"The new-look memorial will help ensure that this terrible event will not be forgotten.

"As a group we want to say a sincere thank-you to the council for organising this."

Thursday night's vigil will begin at 6pm and the group as invited various guests, civic dignitaries and anyone in the city centre at the time to join them for a few moments reflection.

Apart from those who died, almost 200 were injured when bombs went off in the Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush pubs.

Six men convicted over the bombings later had their sentences quashed and no-one has ever been brought to justice.

For years the IRA formally denied any involvement but earlier this year former IRA commander Martin McGuiness appeared to acknowledge it was involved when he said his "heart went out" to the victims and their families.

"My heart goes out to them because they are people who have suffered as a result of the conflict in Northern Ireland," he said.

19 October 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Andy Richards

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Birmingham pub bombings campaigners were protesting at a London conference today where Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is due to talk.

Brian Hambleton and up to two dozen members of the Justice 4 the 21 group were mounting a peaceful demonstration outside the Irish Centre in Camden, where Sinn Fein is hosting the "Towards a New Ireland" event.

Mr Hambleton's sister, Maxine, was one of 21 people who died when bombs exploded in the Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush pubs in Birmingham city centre on November 21, 1974.

"We are hoping that, because this is in the capital, it will elevate our campaign and what we are doing in part of the country where we are not really known," he said.

"I hope Sinn Fein will talk to us. After all, they don't have to go anywhere, we have come to their table.

"We will have several banners, one of which will say 'Gerry and the Peacemakers Will Always Walk Alone while IRA Victims are Ignored'.

The aftermath of the Birmingham pub bombings and (inset) Gerry Adams The aftermath of the Birmingham pub bombings and (inset) Gerry Adams

Six men were convicted over the pub bombings and served 16 years in prison before their convictions were declared unsafe and unsatisfactory, finally being quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1991.

No-one has since been brought to justice.

Justice 4 the 21 want those responsible for the Birmingham bombs to be brought before the courts and sentenced for the crime, one of the biggest ever mass murders in Britain.

The IRA has for years denied being responsible for the bombs.

But former IRA leader and now Northern Ireland's deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, recently said his "heart went out" to the pub bomb victims and their families because they "were people who suffered as a result of the conflict in Northern Ireland."

Several British MPs, including Diane Abbott and former Downing Street Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell, a key player in the peace process, were due to attend today's conference.

With this year marking the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, delegates are focussing on the next phase of the peace protest.

Sinn Fein was historically linked with the Provisional IRA and has been the second largest political party in Northern Ireland since 2011.

Mr Hambleton said his group had written both to Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness, asking if they know who carried out the Birmingham pub bombings, but has had no response.

20 September 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Gary Young

Birmingham pub bombing protesters shout 'murderer' at Martin McGuinness

The brother of a Birmingham pub bombings victim has revealed campaigners shouted "murderer" during a heated showdown with Martin McGuinness.

Brian Hambleton and others from the Justice for the 21 group confronted the former IRA leader after he delivered a peace lecture in Warrington.

He said at the moment the controversial Sinn Fein figure was driven past them, a band of protesters called out: "Murderer!"

It was the first time Brian had been near the controversial politician, now Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister.

Mr McGuinness had been invited to talk at the Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace event by Colin Parry, dad of the schoolboy who died in the Warrington IRA bombing.

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Campaigners from the Justice for 21 group had travelled to the lecture hall to protest outside about the appearance .

"It was quite late when he came out in a chauffeur-driven mini bus, with windows blacked out," said Brian, whose sister Maxine was among 21 people killed in the Birmingham atrocity, which also left more than 180 injured.

"As he went past we all shouted 'Murderer!' These are kind of momentous, poignant moments for us.

"I live this every day but it doesn't get any better and it never will."

Speaking before Wednesday's lecture, Mr McGuinness had said his "heart went out" to the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings .

But Brian, 58, said the words were not enough for still-grieving families who want the IRA to name those responsible for the November 1974 attacks on the Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush.

The campaigner also ruled out any future meeting with Mr McGuinness.

"I couldn't physically meet with the man,'' he said. "The painful thing is, th

30 August 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

THERE are brave men and women in our community who we should honour.

I'm referring to those in the emergency services who were on duty the night evil bombers brought death and carnage when they struck in our city in 1974.

The police fire and ambulance crews who responded were magnificent.

And not only them. There were the taxi drivers who also ferried the injured to hospital, the doctors and nurses who suddenly found themselves dealing with a "war zone" type catastrophe, the Salvation Army who tried to provide some comfort.

One of the first firemen on the scene at the Tavern in the Town informed me that he vividly remembers every detail of that night, from the smell that hit his nostrils to the scenes of sheer horror.

Some may have received some recognition though I am unclear on this.

What Justice4the21 do know is that all who were involved in the rescue operation and the battle to save lives in the immediate aftermath of the explosions should always be respected and appreciated for what they did.

Of course, most if not all are long retired and sadly, some will have passed away. But we should never forget their bravery, particularly those who went directly to the pubs.

At least two bombs had gone off (and, of course, a third had been planted outside Barclays Bank in Hagley Road - the subject of a terrific Birmingham Mail investigation a few days ago).

How were those who had the first calls to the Tavern in the Town and the Mulberry Bush to know that further bombs had not been placed elsewhere and timed to go off to cause even further carnage?

Yet despite this they put their own lives on the line to try to do what they could - anything they could - to save lives.

They went into the burning embers of buildings simply not knowing what they were going into, and if it may cost them their own lives.

This was the darkest night in our great city's history outside of war time.

So, on behalf of my family and this campaign group, I want to formally express our sincere thanks and our eternal gratitude for all that you did and tried to do.

Of course, I've met a few of those involved and I'm glad to have been able to meet them and say my thanks to them on a personal level.

But, with the 40th anniversary of this terrible crime approaching, I think the city - the Government even - should officially recognise their efforts on that black day.

Their efforts to help save my sister, Maxine, and 20 others were in vain.But it bring us some comfort to know that Birmingham's finest were on duty that night and did all that was humanly possible.

I'm sure that many have their private memories and perhaps one day their stories can be told.

I think they should, not least from a historical point of view.

And we are as resolved as ever to try to find the real truth behind what happened on the night - who the bombers were, why they murdered so indiscriminately, and to gain justice for those who were taken away from us through the law courts.

We believe there are political reasons behind what seems to be a complete inertia as far as pursuing the bombers is concerned.

So let me remind the police and the Government what Article 2 (1) of the Human Rights Act states: "Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which the penalty is provided by law."

It doesn't say that the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings should be excluded does it?

15 August 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

I WANT to use this week's column to stress that Justice4the21 is not a political group.

I do so because it is surprising how many people, particularly those in authority, believe that we are and place us in a "political" box.

So, for the record and to make it absolutely plain, we are not a political group and we have no political affiliations.

We simply want truth and justice for our sister, Maxine, the others who died and all the other victims and their families, whose lives were changed for ever on that dreadful November night in 1974.

We want to know the truth about what happened and to try to understand why it happened.

And we want justice.

We want to know who was responsible - we want their names and, provided they are still alive, we want to seem them charged, brought before a court, convicted and punished.

We know that nearly 40 years have passed, but that doesn't mean that those who planned and planted those bombs are somehow now less guilty.

Nor that their crime is any less heinous.

It seems to us that when many people categorise us as a political group it is not because they have made an innocent mistake, but for their purposes and not ours.

By making us look political, it seems to give them an excuse for dragging their heels and being unhelpful.

Our supporters have contacted and sought support from all parties from the Conservatives to Ukip and reserve the right to do so.

We need as much help, support, encouragement and advice as we can muster and when it is offered, and is sensible and genuine, we will take it.

For instance, we were very grateful for the support, wise counsel and advice we received from Northern Ireland's First Minister, Peter Robinson, recently.

Our sister and all the others caught up in the terrible events of that night were not engaged in any political activity, they were not in a war zone.

They were quite simply citizens of Birmingham enjoying their leisure time among friends and family when they were murdered and maimed.

What we are asking for - truth and justice - is not unreasonable, nor unfair.

If it had been your sister, your father or mother or relative, how would you feel?

So again I stress we have no political agenda other than to get ALL political parties and authorities such as, West Midlands Police, to engage and have genuine momentum in establishing the truth, identifying the mass murderers and bringing them to justice.

My question to those in a position to be able to provide such answers is this... what do we pay our rates and taxes for, if no one is prepared to use the full extent of the law? What is the purpose of establishing legislation if those with the power to facilitate it choose to be impotent?

Could it be for their own 'political' ends? But whose & why?

Considering the state of affairs within our current Government, where at best there is often a lack of transparency to at worst complete secrecy, is it not time for all those in the position of authority to show some good old fashioned, British indomitable courage and give the people (who pay their hefty salaries) once and for all, the TRUTH?

How refreshing and quite possibly politically advantageous this could be, especially with an election due....

Sadly, we have believed for a long time - and we suspect that many Birmingham Mail readers do too - that it is politicians who are ultimately trying to keep the doors shut on us ever finding out the truth.

They may have all sorts of reasons and their own agendas for doing that and there may be national and international implications, for the world is a smaller place nowadays.

So I'll remind them that our world and our lives were shattered on November 21, 1974.

It is for that reason that we will never, ever give up our fight for Justice for Maxine and the others.

And one day, I truly believe, we will get it.

13 July 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

Justice4the21 were invited to Belfast by our supporters who live and work in Northern Ireland. The trip for us was monumental and incredibly awe inspiring.

Peter Robinson agreed to meet with us in his role as Leader of the DUP and I have to say he was the most 'real' and 'refreshing' individual we have ever had the pleasure to meet, especially when one considers his position.

The welcome and hospitality we received during our very brief visit was incredible.

I cried (quietly) in the back of the car of one of our supporters who had flown to Belfast to take care of us. Then a local resident, who had re-arranged his day on our behalf, took over and chaperoned us from one meeting to another.

They did this wishing for nothing in return.

These people instinctively believe in our campaign for justice and have given of themselves without question.

Four of our Birmingham supporters came to Belfast with my brother and I. They stayed for two days in order to raise awareness of our plight for justice. These four men, two of whom were not born when our sister Maxine was murdered, are out with us at every petition signing day.

The youth of today receive bad press coverage, but 50 per cent of our supporters are young and all of them are disgusted and appalled at how all the families have been continually ignored by the authorities and Government for nearly four decades.

There is a clear dichotomy of 'care' between the mainland UK and Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland they have support networks for victims and survivors. Here, it appears, would prefer the survivors and the victims' families to have been buried alongside their loved ones who were brutally murdered 38 years ago.

The irreverence of how we have been treated has been palpable. This is what brings our supporters out on the streets and this is what has encouraged Mr Robinson to state that he "unequivocally supports justice4the21 campaign" and is going to push Prime Minister David Cameron to put certain criteria in place, as has been established in Northern Ireland.

It has truly humbled our family to think there are so many people out there who are prepared to give up their own time and in some cases, where they may be out of pocket to come and assist raising our profile, especially on our signature collecting days in the city centre of Birmingham.

We particularly wish to extend, once again, our most sincere thanks and gratitude to Mike Watts, without whom we simply do not know where our campaign would be today.

It was Mike, Mark, Paul and Gary who came to Belfast with us and to each of them we extend our lifelong hand of friendship and deepest heartfelt thanks in line with all those who behind the scenes provide our campaign with support in so many highly significant ways.

love for this person to introduce themselves to us at this year's Memorial or contact us via our email address justicethe21@hotmail.co.uk.

11 July 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Julie Hambleton

Justice4the21 were invited to Belfast by our supporters who live and work in Northern Ireland. The trip for us was monumental and incredibly awe inspiring.

Mr Robinson agreed to meet with us in his role as Leader of the DUP and I have to say he was the most 'real' and 'refreshing' individual we have ever had the pleasure to meet, especially when one considers his position.

The welcome and hospitality we received during our very brief visit was incredible! I cried (quietly) in the back of the car of one of our supporters who had flown to Belfast to take care of us. Then a local resident, who had re-arranged his day on our behalf, took over and chaperoned us from one meeting to another. They did this wishing for nothing in return. These people instinctively believe in our campaign for justice and have given of themselves without question.

Four of our Birmingham supporters came to Belfast with my brother and I. They stayed for two days in order to raise awareness of our plight for justice. These four men, two of whom were not born when our sister Maxine was murdered, are out with us at every Petition signing day. The youth of today receive bad press coverage, but 50% of our supporters are young and all of them are disgusted and appalled at how all the families have been continually ignored by the authorities and government for nearly four decades.

The government have abrogated their responsibility to the very people they are meant to represent and serve year after year. There is a clear dichotomy of 'care' between mainland UK and NI. In NI they have support networks for Victims and Survivors. Here on the mainland the government, it appears, would prefer the survivors and the victims' families to have been buried alongside their loved ones who were brutally and callously murdered 38 years ago. For some reason, the authorities do not want to deal with the truth of this heinous carnage that continues to stain our great city.

The irreverence of how we have been treated has been palpable. This is what brings our supporters out on the streets and this is what has incentivised Mr Robinson to state that he 'unequivocally supports justice4the21 campaign' and is going to push the PM David Cameron to put certain criteria in place, as has been established in NI.

It has truly humbled our family to think there are so many people out there who are prepared to give up their own time and in some cases, where they may be out of pocket (by giving up a day at work) to come and assist raise our profile, especially on our signature collecting days in the city centre of Birmingham. We particularly wish to extend, once again, our most sincere thanks and gratitude to Mike Watts, without whom we simply do not know where our campaign would be today. It was Mike, Mark, Paul and Gary who came to Belfast with us and to each of them we extend our lifelong hand of friendship and deepest heartfelt thanks in line with all those who behind the scenes provide our campaign with support in so many highly significant ways.

21 June 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Amoolya Meeta

Re-visiting the pub bombings.....

It was a busy news day at University when I first heard my friend talk about the Birmingham Pub bombings. Though the subject initially did not interest me, I was later shocked to find out that the 38-year-old case had still not found a closure. Deeper research into this tragedy revealed that the Birmingham pub bombings were the largest terrorist atrocity on Mainland Britain in the 20th Century. Being an overseas student, it was appalling to note the British government's failure to bring to justice the perpetrators of such a horrendous crime. I also observed a few important questions that curiously remain unanswered. Because of this, I had decided to choose the pub bombings as the topic for my upcoming project.

38 years, 21 deaths, zero convictions and no justice. This initial observation struck a resounding chord in me. The 38 long years did not just symbolize a long wait for justice, but also questioned the credibility of the British government to hold the conspirators of the pub bombings responsible.

The agony and struggle of the families waiting for justice to be served was evidently overlooked in this case. West Midlands Police state that there was an investigation into this case after the "Birmingham Six" were released in 1993, but this was conducted 'in camera' - behind closed doors.

What is causing the unprecedented delay in bringing the real culprits to book?

Could it be, political collusion and corruption among Police forces and sheer indifference of the higher authorities that may be cited as a few answers to questions like these?

Even after my elaborate research, interviews and persistent efforts to get more clarity into what transpired in 1974, I have failed to get any convincing answers.

Being an outsider, I always marveled at the accountability of the British legal system, the models of which are adopted by various countries worldwide. However, it is ironic that the very system that has developed over centuries to protect the innocent has failed to deliver on its core principals of justice, especially for the 21 innocent people who were killed, leaving 182 maimed.

My project (blog), "A Visitor's diary of the Birmingham Pub bombings" tried to offer many perspectives of this heinous crime. When my blog reached a thousand hits, I made a rather intriguing observation. There are still many British people who relate to the bombings. There are those who have been directly impacted, those indirectly impacted and others who were sucked into it in the most unfortunate ways possible. The Birmingham pub bombings of 1974 are infamously remembered for the Irish Republican terror that gripped England for many years.

Though the Irish Republican Army never officially accepted responsibility for the bombings, I found out through my interviews that for many people in Birmingham, their involvement could not be ignored. The Irish community in the city also suffered a major backlash following the pub bombings. Six Irishmen, often addressed as the "Birmingham Six" were arrested and convicted in the immediate aftermath of the bombings but were released some 16 years later for wrongful convictions. Since then it is considered the biggest miscarriage of justice in the British legal history, whereby the real culprits are far from being punished.

23 May 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Brian Hambleton

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On the evening of 21 November 1974, our lives were changed forever in the most harrowing way.

I, as usual, would arrive at approximately 6pm to our home in Alum Rock to be greeted by a happy sister who was always there to ask us how our day had been.

It didn't really matter if it had been a good or bad day, she would make everything sound fine.

We were like batteries in a torch, she empowered us but she was the great light that shone from it.

Maxine, our sister, held Paul and me together like glue. Paul, my brother, Maxine and I had recently moved into this house.

Maxine had decided to continue her studies at Sheldon Heath Grammar School to further her education to study law.

Being the determined, tenacious young woman she was, Maxine secured a part-time position at Miss Selfridge in Lewis's.

In 1974, this was a new, trendy young ladies fashion outlet, which she also had a great interest in, especially as she was arty and enjoyed making clothes for her two younger sisters, Jayne and Julie, as well as herself.

We were so lucky to have had Maxine as our sister. On that Thursday evening she told me she was catching the bus into town to hand out her hand-made 'house-warming' party invitations, as we were due to have a party the following evening.

As there was only the three of us we could not afford a telephone so she decided to meet her friends in the city that night.

I dropped her off in Dale End, without knowing it I was saying my very last goodbye to my sister and I would be the last person in our family to see her alive.

It was mid-evening when I was watching television when an ITN newsflash came on, informing viewers of bomb explosions in the centre of Birmingham.

I remember to this day, the feeling of dread and a strange unsettling connection to this disaster.

I immediately drove towards town but obviously there was no way through.

So I ended up back home, sitting in a chair that I never moved from all night, desperately hoping to hear the front door open and see Maxine home and safe.

But, as the hours passed I felt sick and unnerved, realising she was involved in this horrendous attack.

At about 6am I pulled myself together ready for college and reluctantly made my way to Hall Green. I was running on adrenaline, not knowing what was about to unfold.

At approximately 9.30am my worst fears were confirmed as the classroom door opened and the college Principal entered requesting to speak to me privately.

He told me I had to meet my father at his workplace immediately.

It was then I knew she had been killed.

15 May 2013 - Birmingham Mail - by Mike Lockley

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Justice4the21 - fighting for the truth about the Birmingham pub bombings

A campaign group seeking justice for the victims is beginning to win the support of senior politicians

Julie Hambleton held the cardboard box nervously then summoned sufficient courage to gingerly feel inside the worn container.

She pulled out a bottle of champagne, bowed her head and wept uncontrollably, tears dappling dust on the vessel.

It has been 38 tortuous years since Julie's sister, Maxine, was murdered, one of 21 victims butchered by bombs in Birmingham's Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs.

The pain and anger of that barbaric act still burns under Julie and elder brother Brian's skin.

And forgotten pieces of fun-loving Maxine's life still surface. The modest box, along with a handful of scratched 45s, were handed to 50 year-old Julie by her father.

"She wanted to improve her French," cried Julie, fingering the champagne, "so she went grape-picking in France. This is the bottle she brought back."

Julie is the tireless engine behind Justice4the21, a band committed to finding and punishing those with blood on their hands following the November 21, 1974, atrocity.

To that end they need 100,000 names on a petition calling for a public inquiry.

The campaigners' first petition ran out of time, not momentum.

Their second, currently standing at 8,000 paper signatures, 1,000 on-line, is also unlikely to succeed.

But Julie, who takes no prisoners when clashing with politicians and police chiefs over the topic, and her team have re-ignited public passion over the horrific crime.

"We are not just doing this for us," she stressed during a gathering of the group's main-players, "we are doing it for future generations.

"Who is to say this will not happen again? The perception is, you can come to Birmingham, murder as many people as you like and get away with it.

"Even a senior police officer said, you are bringing about a change that has never been seen before."

Julie sighs and stares at the dusty bottle. "What sticks in my craw is the fact the Government is saying it is not for them to get involved.

"So why were Tony Blair and Mo Mowlam discussing the Good Friday Agreement to bring about the peace process?

"Yet the Government doesn't want to get involved in the biggest mass murder in Britain.

"They are complicit in allowing the murderers to have their freedom."

"They hope we will lose hope," she added defiantly. "We will never lose hope."

She and Brian, 58, are driven by the memory of remarkable Maxine, a bright, bubbly girl violently robbed of a legal career.

Incredibly, she juggled studies and a part-time job at Miss Selfridge while acting as a mother figure at the Alum Rock home she shared with Brian and younger brother Paul. "Me, Paul and Maxine, we were glued together," said Brian.

"Maxine did everything for us. She would cook and wash, she would look after us, even though we always said we didn't expect anything of her."

The weight of grief Brian feels over the loss of his beloved sister is tinged - quite wrongly - with guilt.

"It tore me apart," he confessed.

"I was going out to see my girlfriend and said to Maxine, 'if you iron my shirt, I'll drop you off in town'. It was a joke, but she ironed my shirt.

"If I hadn't done that, and she got on the bus, she might not have got there at that time."

Such are the ghosts that plague the Hambletons: ghosts that can only be put to rest by justice.

The group's relationship with West Midlands Police is, at best, strained, at worst acrimonious.

They have gone to the force armed with names and theories, only to be frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of urgency. They believe some officers are reluctant to uncover mistakes made by predecessors

Supporter Mike Watts, tasked with sifting through a mountain of documents, cuttings and books, believes the ground-swell of public revulsion cannot be ignored.

"The Hambletons are victims of terrorism," he said. "The great thing is the people who support us and the sacrifices they have made. For the first time, it feels like it is a community again in Birmingham.

"People would run through brick walls for the Hambletons."

Justice4the21 may soon have something to sing about - thanks to the efforts of 61-year-old musician Phil Hatton.

He is currently attempting to get local pop stars into the studio for a campaign single.

"We have woken a lot of people who shunned the subject," he told The Birmingham Mail. "For some reason they were frightened - it was nasty, it was the IRA.

"This is our Twin Towers. Someone came into our city and placed those bombs in the most terrible of places. Our people were killed.

"Those people who placed those bombs thought they would get away with it, but they are not going to get away with it."

One thing is for sure. Julie Hambleton will spend every waking hour of every day to ensure that comes to pass.

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson

The Justice4the21 campaign has received a massive boost after being backed by Northern Ireland's First Minister, Peter Robinson.

Following a meeting last week with Ms Hambleton and campaigners at Stormont, Mr Robinson said a new investigation was "necessary".

He said: "These people need to see there is a real attempt being made to try and pin point who has been responsible for those dreadful bombings in Birmingham."

Mr Robinson said he had asked Ms Hambleton to put together a dossier of documents about her campaign that he would pass to Prime Minister David Cameron.

"I believe if the Prime Minister looks at the arguments they're putting forward there's every reason why there should be an investigation," he said.

Mr Robinson also signed Ms Hambleton's petition calling for a public inquiry.

She said his support was an "incredible boost" for her campaign.

"We just want justice for families like us, justice that has not yet been seen to be done by the authorities," she said.

The group also met with officials from Justice for Innocent Victims of Terrorism, a Northern Ireland-wide advocacy and representation based organisation.

A spokesman said: "To hear the experiences of the Hambleton's was very moving and emotional for those of us who met with them on Friday evening. Their pain is also the pain of those whose loved ones were murdered as a consequence of terrorism in Northern Ireland.

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with the families of Birmingham in their quest to have the case re-opened.

We also call upon the UK Government to immediately put in place a task force which would examine the legacy issues faced by GB-based Victims and Survivors of Terrorism.

"Whether a bombing happened in Omagh, Enniskillen, Claudy, Dublin, Monaghan, London or Birmingham the innocent victims and survivors of Terrorism must not be forgotten.

" It is a downright disgrace that no support provision has been put in place to support the families of the murdered 21 nor the 182 who were injured as a consequence of what was amongst the most 'evil acts of terrorism' to have been perpetrated over the last 40 plus year period," he added