Coroner to contact families of Guildford pub bombings over inquest bid

The aftermath of an IRA bomb attack on the Horse and Groom pub in Guildford.
The aftermath of an IRA bomb attack on the Horse and Groom pub in Guildford.

A coroner is contacting the families of those killed in The Guildford Pub bombings following a request to resume the inquests into their deaths.

The sister of the Guildford Four’s Gerry Conlon submitted the request through lawyers last week.

Mr Conlon was one of the quartet wrongly imprisoned for the 1974 IRA attacks in the Surrey town which killed five people - four soldiers and a civilian - and injured 65.

The Guildford Four were handed life sentences, but had their convictions overturned in 1989, and their case became one of the best known miscarriages of justice in British legal history.

Belfast-based firm KRW Law said it has applied to the senior coroner for Surrey to resume the inquests on behalf of Mr Conlon’s sister Ann McKernan and a soldier who survived and who wishes to remain anonymous.

It said it was informed on Wednesday that the Senior Coroner of Surrey intended to locate and contact the families of those who died as a result of the bombings to explain the nature of the application and allow them to make representations if they wanted to.

The firm said the application was on the basis that the inquests were never completed following the conviction of the Guildford Four.

Soldiers Caroline Slater, 18, William Forsyth, 18, John Hunter, 17, and Ann Hamilton, 19, and civilian Paul Craig, 22, died in the blast at the Horse and Groom pub on October 5 1974.

Christopher Stanley, litigation consultant at KRW LAW LLP said: “Our experience of resumed and fresh inquests in Northern Ireland and in Birmingham has demonstrated to us that this legal process can provide a truth recovery mechanism for relatives of victims and survivors and provide answers to many unanswered questions.

“Those relatives and survivors are entitled as a matter of law, and indeed an internationally binding legal agreement, to have access to a judicially supervised forum which provides unambiguous access to truth recovery for themselves and for their communities.”