No jury for pub bombings inquest

An inquest into the 1974 Guildford pub bombings will sit without a jury, a pre-inquest review has heard.

Saturday, 15th January 2022, 7:48 am
Guildford bombings

Coroner Richard Travers told the hearing at Surrey Coroner’s Court yesterday that he could see no good reason to empanel a jury.

He said a coroner alone can give a detailed explanation of their conclusions while a jury cannot. He referred to a short submission from KRW Law on behalf of the family of victim Ann Hamilton requesting a jury.

He said: “It is purely down to my discretion. The reason I am referring to KRW is they don’t give a specific reason for me to sit with a jury.”

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While KRW had made a small submission in the lead-up to the hearing, it was not present at the inquest after the families’ request for legal aid was refused.

Ahead of the hearing, Ann’s sister Cassandra Hamilton called for the immediate implementation of the Hillsborough Law to provide legal aid for victims’ families at inquests.

Speaking to the BBC, she said: “We cannot effectively participate at the inquest into the murder of our sister Ann without independent legal representation – and on the same terms as the MoD and the police.

“The coroner and Surrey Police recognise this – why not the Legal Aid Agency?”

Another opportunity for the families to receive legal funding was also side-lined yesterday after the coroner told the inquest he sees no reason for the inquest to be held as an Article 2 inquest.

Article 2 inquests, also known as Middleton inquests, are held when the state fails to protect individuals from a “real and immediate” threat to their lives.

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 only allows legal aid to be granted for inquests with a wider public interest, or for Middleton inquests.

Counsel to the inquest, Oliver Sanders QC, also said he sees no reason for the inquest to be held as a Middleton inquest.

“In our submission, although there was a general risk from the Provisional IRA to members of society and the armed forces, it was not enough to suggest a real and immediate risk,” Mr Sanders said.

“There was no intelligence to suggest that pubs or the armed forces in the area were going to be targeted.”

This position was supported by representatives from the Ministry of Defence, Surrey Police, and the Metropolitan Police.

He added that he will keep the possibility of making the inquest a Middleton inquest open.

For now it will proceed as a traditional Jamieson inquest.

This means the inquest’s scope will consider who the deceased were, and when, where and how they came by their deaths.

The next pre-inquest review will be held on March 25.