New inquest ordered into Birmingham pub bombings

File photo dated 14/03/91 of the Birmingham Six (left-right) John Walker, Paddy Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Chris Mullen MP, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter and William Power outside the Old Bailey in London after their convictions were quashed, as the sister of a Birmingham pub bombings victim has said a decision to grant an inquest in the case would be "seismic". PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday February 10, 2016. Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine was killed in the 1974 attacks, said the hearing by a coroner of an application to resume the inquest was "momentous" for the families. See PA story INQUEST Birmingham. Photo credit should read: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire
File photo dated 14/03/91 of the Birmingham Six (left-right) John Walker, Paddy Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Chris Mullen MP, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter and William Power outside the Old Bailey in London after their convictions were quashed, as the sister of a Birmingham pub bombings victim has said a decision to grant an inquest in the case would be "seismic". PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday February 10, 2016. Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine was killed in the 1974 attacks, said the hearing by a coroner of an application to resume the inquest was "momentous" for the families. See PA story INQUEST Birmingham. Photo credit should read: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

A senior coroner has ordered new inquests into the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974, which killed 21 people, injured 182, and led to the wrongful imprisonment of six men including Londonderry native John Walker.

Louise Hunt, senior coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, said she was reopening the inquests after receiving material suggesting the security forces may have had advance warning about the Provisional IRA bombings.

“I have serious concerns that advanced notice of the bombs may have been available to the police and that they failed to take the necessary steps to protect life,” she said on Wednesday, June 1.

“This is specifically in respect of the two matters I have identified.

“It is only in respect of that issue that I consider there is sufficient reason to resume an inquest to investigate the circumstances of these deaths. “So I am satisfied that the inquest should be resumed,” she confirmed.

Londonderry native John Walker, who left the city at the age of 16 and settled in Birmingham, was one of the victims of one of the worst miscarriages of justice in the United Kingdom’s history.

Mr Walker, who moved to Gweedore after his release, served sixteen years in jail alongside Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Joseph Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny and William Power, after being wrongly convicted of having carried out the bombings in 1975.

The men were released in 1991 and were later awarded compensation for their injury.

Speaking to Dale Moore in 2012, Mr Walker, said: “The British may have released us but they have never set us free for although we were compensated in monetary terms they never apologised or brought those responsible for framing us to account.

“They even had the audacity to charge us for subsistence for the 16 years they held us. I landed back in Derry to a great reception but they might as well have put me on the moon.

“Simple things like using money, crossing the road or even the ability to walk outside when I wanted to were all alien to me.”