Coroner told to reconsider Birmingham pub bombing inquest restrictions

Julie Hambleton, who leads the Justice4the21 campaign and whose sister Maxine died in the Birmingham pub bombings, speaks outside the Priory Court in Birmingham after a coroner was ordered to reconsider his decision to restrict the scope of inquests into the bombings after a legal challenge by victims' families. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Julie Hambleton, who leads the Justice4the21 campaign and whose sister Maxine died in the Birmingham pub bombings, speaks outside the Priory Court in Birmingham after a coroner was ordered to reconsider his decision to restrict the scope of inquests into the bombings after a legal challenge by victims' families. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Families of those killed in the Birmingham pub bombings have welcomed a legal ruling ordering a coroner to reconsider his decision to restrict the scope of inquests into the atrocity.

A judicial review heard by two High Court judges quashed a previous decision by coroner Sir Peter Thornton to exclude the issue of the perpetrators of the 1974 bombings from the new hearings.

The coroner ruled in July last year that investigations into the identity of those responsible for the atrocities should not form part of his inquiry.

His decision had prompted many of the families of those killed to consider boycotting the new inquests.

In the ruling, handed down in Birmingham yesterday, Mrs Justice Carr said: “We are minded to quash the coroner’s decision which excluded the perpetrator issue and remit the case so as to enable him to reconsider the decision.”

Spokeswoman for the victims’ campaign group Justice4the21, Julie Hambleton, said the inquests would be a “mockery” without their scope being widened.

Ms Hambleton, whose sister Maxine died in the bombings, told reporters that they hoped the coroner would now reconsider.

“Today’s decision is the right decision. Common sense has finally prevailed.

“We would like to thank Lord Justice Simon and Mrs Justice Carr for hearing our appeal and for asking the coroner to go away and ask himself another question, and that question is ‘Who murdered our loved ones?’

A spokesman for the inquests said the coroner “now wishes to take some time to consider carefully the judgment handed by the High Court and its impact on the future progress of the inquests”.