Birmingham bomb victim’s brother has no faith in Hayes police probe

Julie and Brian Hambleton, whose sister Maxine Hambleton was aged just 18 when she was killed in the Birmingham pub bombings
Julie and Brian Hambleton, whose sister Maxine Hambleton was aged just 18 when she was killed in the Birmingham pub bombings

The brother of a teenager killed in the 1974 Birmingham bombings has said he doesn’t believe a former IRA man’s revelations about the mass murders will be investigated.

Last week the BBC broadcast an interview with Michael Hayes in which the Dublin resident claimed he accepted “collective responsibility” the attacks on two bars that killed 21 innocent civilians.

It has now emerged that West Midlands Police have formally asked the BBC for the tapes to be handed over with a view to gathering evidence.

Brian Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine Hambleton was killed in the Tavern in the Town blast just minutes after a bomb also destroyed the nearby Mulberry Bush bar, said he is convinced no action will be taken – whatever evidence is forthcoming.

Commenting on the police request to view the original interview tapes, Mr Hambleton said: “It’s like a timid offering ... this is lip service. Hayes was goading everyone last Monday night, yet we have something called a European Arrest Warrant.

“He is basically pointing a stick in our eye.”

Mr Hambleton – a member of the Justice4the21 campaign group – has been lobbying the Birmingham police to actively pursue prosecutions against any surviving known suspects.

“Unfortunately, the police have no interest in the Birmingham bombers,” he said.

“I think the public at large will want [the police] to take some serious action.

“Last Thursday I was outside the headquarters of West Midlands Police, demonstrating, asking why nothing has been done to arrest Michael Hayes, who has been goading us, and [the media], on TV.

“It is unbelievable. When Hayes went on the TV last week, I spent all night consoling people from different [victims’] families. The word outrageous doesn’t come close.”

During the documentary, Hayes said he was speaking to give the “point of view of a participant”.

Mr Hambleton went on to say: “Even though some families will never get justice – and I don’t think we will – everyone is entitled to the truth. This has been a very hard road to travel.”

Following the screening of the programme, Mr Hambleton’s sister, Julie Hambleton, told the News Letter she believed 69-year-old Hayes was “being protected” from prosecution.

She said: “I think he is being protected ... Tony Blair, remember, did his secret dirty deals to write out these on-the-run letters. Maybe he is holding one of them and he is being protected.”