Birmingham & Black Country

Ex-MP Chris Mullin called 'scum' for pub bomb name silence

Chris Mullin Image copyright PA
Image caption Julie Hambleton (l) challenged Mr Mullin about his silence about the names

A former MP has been branded a "disgrace" for refusing to name living suspects accused of being involved in the Birmingham pub bombings.

Chris Mullin had security protection as he left the inquests into the deaths of the 21 people killed in November 1974.

He was called "scum" as Justice for the 21 campaigner Julie Hambleton asked him: "How do you sleep at night?"

Mr Mullin was instrumental in freeing the wrongly convicted group known as the Birmingham Six in 1991.

The men were convicted for the bombings in 1975.

In 1986, the former Sunderland MP-turned-journalist published a book, Error of Judgement: The Truth About the Birmingham Bombings, in which he claimed to have traced and met some of those actually responsible.

'Carry on pretending'

He has said of those he believes were behind the bombings that, "other than a confession, there is no evidence that would stand up in court which would lead to the conviction of the surviving suspects".

Mr Mullin faced the angry scenes as he left the inquests at Birmingham Civil Justice Centre on 27 March, which can only be reported on now the hearings have concluded.

Image caption Mr Mullin (centre) said the release of the Birmingham Six was one of the best days of his life

He appeared shaken as crowds shouted "scum" and "disgrace". Ms Hambleton, whose sister Maxine died in the atrocities, filmed him on her mobile phone.

Confronting him, she said: "How do you sleep at night? You did all that for the Birmingham Six and you've done nothing for 21 victims who were slaughtered in cold blood."

During his testimony, he was asked by barrister Leslie Thomas QC, representing nine of the families, if Mr Mullin had reached an agreement with the IRA and those who carried out the bombings that he would not reveal their identities while they were alive.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Mullin said his "primary interest was in rescuing these six other innocent victims of the pub bombings"

Mr Mullin said: "That's right, yes," adding that he had interviewed about 17 people who had been planting IRA bombs in and around Birmingham before the actual attacks.

He said: "My primary interest was in rescuing these six other innocent victims of the pub bombings. I was never under the illusion at any stage that I could bring the perpetrators to justice.

"The only way to establish beyond doubt that the six people in jail were not responsible was to find out who was responsible and to persuade them to describe in sufficient detail what they had done so that it would not be possible for anyone to carry on pretending, as some were at the time, that the right people were in jail."

Days before Mr Mullin gave his testimony, a convicted IRA bomber known as "Witness O" named four men - Seamus McLoughlin, Mick Murray, James Gavin and Michael Hayes - as the men responsible for planting the bombs.

Image caption Scene of the devastation after an IRA attack on the Mulberry Bush pub on November 21st 1974

Other than Mr Hayes, the men are now dead. Mr Hayes has denied direct involvement but has admitted "collective responsibility". A lawyer for the families also named a fifth man, Michael Patrick Reilly, who has strongly denied any involvement.

Mr Mullin said in his evidence that it was for the police to bring the perpetrators to justice "had they been interested".

"I would say that I volunteered an understanding that I was not interested in naming the names, but what I wanted was to hear from the people who I believed did actually carry out the bombings."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The damage outside the Tavern in the Town on New Street, close to the Odeon cinema which is still there today

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