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Who Murdered Maxine?

Following the campaign of the family of one of the victims to try and discover who was responsible for blowing up two Birmingham pubs on the same night almost 40 years ago.

Release date:

29 minutes

Last on

Thu 3 Apr 2014 23:20

Paddy Hill meets family of Maxine Hambleton

Paddy Hill meets family of Maxine Hambleton

Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six and the family of Maxine Hambleton, who was killed in one of the Birmingham pub bombings in 1974, come face to face for the first time in the documentary Who Murdered Maxine?


The coming together of the two sides from opposite ends of this tragedy garnered an unlikely alliance between the two parties.


During what is a very tense and emotional meeting, some common ground is found which culminates in Paddy offering to give Brian and Julie Hambleton access to a complete set of files relating to the case, which are held at his solicitors in London.


Remarkably, after almost 40 years, this is the first time that the family has ever been shown any evidence relating to their sister’s murder.


Paddy Hill says: “The sooner we get the truth then maybe for the living relatives of those who died and for those that were injured and are still alive, maybe then there will be some closure. But none of us will have closure until we do know the truth.”


Unlikely alliance


The meeting was filmed at The Tim Parry and Jonathan Ball Peace Centre in Warrington which was built in memory of the two young boys who were killed when an IRA bomb exploded in the town 20 years ago.


The meeting between the Hambletons and Paddy Hill is a milestone for both parties.


For 16 and a half years the Hambletons believed that Paddy Hill was one of the people responsible for the death of their sister in the Tavern In The Town pub in Birmingham almost 40 years ago.


The Hambletons said meeting Paddy Hill was one of the hardest things they have ever done. Brian said it was "like going to meet the enemy" but got to ask Mr Hill once and for all if he murdered his sister.


After an emotional first meeting, the Hambletons seemed satisfied with Mr Hill's answers.


Brian Hambleton says: “I feel absolutely numb. I can’t believe I’ve just met and spent time with the man I’ve always been told and believed has murdered my sister. But if it wasn’t for the facts from my own investigation that we’ve done, which are comparable with what he says to us, I couldn’t have sat here for the length of time I have done.”


Mr Hill and the Hambletons parted on good terms after his offer to show them the case files.


The film follows the Hambletons ahead of the 39th anniversary of the bombings that claimed the life of their sister along with 20 other people and injured almost 200 more in the centre of Birmingham on 21 November 1974.


The family's campaign


The film also looks at the Justice4the21 campaign headed by the Hambletons, which is aiming to get the case into who actually bombed Birmingham reopened and the killers brought to justice - something they are finding difficult to do.


Julie Hambleton says: “If they’d done everything that was humanly possible then how come the perpetrators are still out there with their liberty?”


Julie and Brian wrote to West Midlands Police a year ago to ask for the case to be reopened.


The BBC team visited West Midlands Police Headquarters in Birmingham and spoke to the Assistant Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Marcus Beale, in his role of head of the force's Counter Terrorism Unit about the case.


Mr Beale says: “It’s very much on record that the original work was found to be flawed by the court of appeal. The approach that was taken to managing families in these types of cases is very different today than it was then and it’s right that we have a much closer relationship with them. We’re definitely doing this because it is the right thing to do and it’s right that we should be able to answer their questions in time.”


The family hope to collect 100,000 signatures for their campaign in order to prove they have Birmingham’s backing and in turn prompt a debate in Parliament.


To date only 10,000 people have signed up to the cause. One of the signatories is Paddy Hill himself; another is Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson.


Mr Robinson says: “I’ve been reading something of the campaign and obviously from a Northern Ireland perspective we look very closely, there was massive empathy and sympathy at the time of the bombing itself."


He added: I’ve indicated to the group that if they want to compile a dossier I’ll put it into the hands of the Prime Minister. I believe that if the Prime Minister looks at the arguments that they’re putting forward there’s every reason that there should be an investigation.”


Each anniversary of the bombings that claimed their sister’s life brings reflection, but this year has been about moving forward and bringing the campaign for justice for the 21 victims to the public’s attention.


Brian says: “I’ve always had the sense that the people in power - MPs, governments, the police - think that we would probably only last five minutes, but we’re still here, we won’t go away. I don’t know how long I’ll be on this planet for, but I will be fighting this until the day I die.”

Who were the Birmingham pub bombers?

Who were the Birmingham pub bombers?

Twenty one people were murdered and 182 were injured when terrorists blew up two Birmingham pubs on the same night in 1974.    


The family of one of the victims, Maxine Hambleton, has been campaigning to establish the truth about who carried out the Birmingham bombings. 


Can an unlikely alliance between the family and Paddy Hill of the 'Birmingham Six' establish the truth about the Birmingham pub bombings nearly 40 years ago?


Watch the video feature on the BBC News website,

Call to reopen investigation

Call to reopen investigation

The bombings took place at two pubs - The Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town - on 21 November 1974.


Read about the campaign to reopen the investigation into the Birmingham pub bombings on the BBC News website.


Role Contributor
Executive ProducerRachel Bowering
DirectorAnthony Bartram
ProducerAnthony Bartram
NarratorDavid Harewood