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News Round-Up Week Ending 12.2.16

(Posted on 11/02/16)


West Midlands Police ‘lied to protect IRA mole’. 

Birmingham and Solihull coroner Louise Hunt is hearing an application to resume inquests into the twenty-one deaths that resulted from the 1974 pub bombings. An inquest was opened and adjourned in 1975 but, because the case was subject to a criminal investigation that resulted in the conviction of six men, it was never completed.

“There is reason to believe the gang of murderers had an informant in their ranks and that the police knew in advance,” argued Ashley Underwood QC, representing some of the victims' families. Police officers may have deliberately prosecuted the innocent Birmingham Six, whose convictions were finally quashed in 1991.

“There is reason to believe the police had sufficient time, between the telephone warnings and the first bomb going off, to evacuate,” Mr Underwood continued, “and that the emergency services could have arrived earlier - but that records about those things were falsified."

The coroner ordered police to produce any information on these claims by March 3rd and set a provisional date of April 6th for her decision as to whether inquests should resume.

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine died in the attacks, aged eighteen, said she was “cautiously optimistic”.

Inquiry into Met’s handling of historic abuse claims

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe announced an inquiry, to be led by retired judge Sir Richard Henriques, into the Met’s handling of historic allegations of sexual abuse against public figures. This follows criticism of the handling of allegations against former Conservative Home Secretary Leon Brittan and former Chief of Defence Staff Edwin Bramall, and calls for the commissioner’s contract not to be renewed. 

“We are not afraid to learn how we can do these things better,” said Sir Bernard, “and that’s why I’ve announced today’s review into how we have conducted investigations into non-recent sexual allegations involving public figures.”

Sir Bernard also responded to criticism of the Met’s apparent unconditional acceptance of abuse claims as truthful.

“A good investigator would test the accuracy of the allegations and the evidence with an open mind, supporting the complainant through the process. This is a more neutral way to begin than saying we should believe victims, and better describes our impartial mindset,

“The public should be clear that officers do not believe unconditionally what anyone tells them. They are listened to, sometimes at length, before the decision is made to begin an investigation.”

Only part of the inquiry’s findings will be made public, as “the full review will contain confidential and sensitive information and will be a private report for the commissioner.”