Surrey

Guildford pub bombings inquest can access closed files

Pub wreckage
Image caption Two bombs went off in Guildford on 5 October 1974

The resumed inquest into the Guildford pub bombs in 1974 will have access to more than 700 classified files, a pre-inquest review (PIR) has been told.

The files, which remain closed and retained by the Home Office, have been at the centre of a long-running row over alleged secrecy surrounding the IRA bombs which killed five people.

Witness statements from the time are to be circulated among interested parties.

The PIR heard 134 statements are among the first documents to be released.

A schedule summarising 712 witness statements will also be disclosed.

The 700 files are from an inquiry by Sir John May into the wrongful convictions of 11 people - the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven - after the bombings on 5 October that year.

Oliver Sanders QC, counsel to the inquest, said the custodians of the May archive "remain ready to give us access".

Image copyright Handout
Image caption Four soldiers and a civilian died in the first explosion at the Horse and Groom

In February KRW Law, representing relatives of Ann Hamilton, one of the soldiers who died, had raised concerns that Surrey Police was overseeing the cataloguing process as archives were disclosed.

KRW Law were not present at Wednesday's hearing, held via remote technology, after the Hamilton family was refused legal aid, but Surrey coroner Richard Travers said he had been given reassurance all documents found were being retained and scheduled.

He said: "If there were ever any question, we would be able to look at the schedules."

Image caption The bombs killed five people and injured 65

Fiona Barton QC, for Surrey Police, told the hearing there were at least three more tranches of documents to be released and the next set would focus on the emergency response at the Horse & Groom, one of the two pubs bombed.

The PIR heard work was under way to trace four individuals identified by the Met Police, while Mr Sanders said there had been correspondence about another officer, Det Sgt Lewis, but added: "We don't think he needs to be pursued at this stage."

The PIR heard South East Coast Ambulance Service and the Royal Surrey County Hospital had been asked to identify documents they held, and was also told that there may still be papers relating to Caroline Slater, another soldier who died.

The next PIR is due to be held in September.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The wrongly convicted Guildford Four served 15 years in jail

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