April 21, 2019
International Crime

IRA man 'may be questioned' over Birmingham pub bombings

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A self-confessed IRA bomb maker could be questioned in connection with the Birmingham pub bombings, judges heard.

Michael Hayes may also be spoken to by lawyers acting for the coroner in the inquests into the deaths of the 21 victims, which are currently suspended.

Hayes, from Dublin, previously told the BBC he took “collective responsibility” for the IRA’s activities in England, including the 1974 pub bombings.

Twenty-one people died when two bombs were detonated in the city.

West Midlands Police secured a court order last week to obtain the un-broadcast material from the BBC as part of the continuing criminal investigation.

Families of the victims were at the High Court, sitting in Birmingham, in a legal bid to overturn coroner Sir Peter Thornton QC’s ruling banning the identification of suspects at fresh inquests.

They are asking for a judicial review of that decision, in order to widen the inquests’ scope and include “the perpetrator issue”.

Progress on the hearings is currently suspended, pending a legal ruling on the issue.

In submissions for the coroner opposing the families’ application, his barrister Peter Skelton QC said it was an important distinction in law that coronial and criminal processes were separate.

Mr Skelton said the criminal process was continuing, and raised Hayes as an example.

He said: “The West Midlands Police must go about their own function and the coroner will not seek to in any way compromise that.”

He added: “It is conceivable that if there was a criminal lead during the coroner’s hearing the inquest would again be suspended.

“A person could be charged and prosecuted during those proceedings, for example, Michael Hayes.

“That is a possibility and it will will remain a possibility throughout the inquest.”

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