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No charges in Birmingham pub bombings investigation as prosecutors say there's not enough evidence
21 August 2023, 19:50
A reopened investigation into the worst-ever unsolved terrorist attack on the British mainland will not bring any charges.
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Investigators said there was not enough evidence to work out who planted the Birmingham pub bombs that killed 21 people in 1974 - despite a "thorough and careful" review.
The families of the victims had hoped that the renewed investigation by West Midlands Police would result in the killers being identified.
West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable Jayne Meir said: "We submitted all the evidence available to the Crown Prosecution Service for their consideration and we note their decision.
"Our thoughts remain with the families and victims of this terrible atrocity. We remain committed to bringing to justice those responsible for the Birmingham pub bombings."
But the CPS said that the evidence submitted by West Midlands Police was insufficient.
Staff added that they would continue to support police should there be further lines of enquiry.
More than 200 people were injured, alongside the 21 killed, as two bombs exploded in the Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush pubs on November 21, 1974.
A third bomb failed to go off and was recovered. West Midlands Police later lost it.
Six Irish men - Hugh Callaghan, Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, John Walker, Richard McIlkenny and Billy Power - were wrongly convicted over the attacks and jailed for life in 1975.
They were freed in 1991 after the Court of Appeal ruled their convictions were unsafe.
Inquests into the deaths were held in Birmingham in 2019, where an anonymous witness, named Witness O, named the perpetrators as Mick Murray, Seamus McLoughlin and James Francis Gavin, who have since died, and Michael Hayes, who admitted on television in 2017 to being involved in the bomb plot.
West Midlands Police lost a court appeal in 2020 to force the journalist Chris Mullin to hand over source material from the 1980s which was said to contain a confession from the true perpetrator of the crimes.
In a letter to the victims' families, the CPS said that it did not have sufficient evidence to identify who made the confession to Mr Mullin and that it was unlikely that a new court order compelling him to reveal the source would be granted.
Nick Price, head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: "The Birmingham pub bombings were a terrorist atrocity which cut short the lives of 21 people and injured many more who were simply seeking to enjoy their evening.
"The attack has brought such unimaginable grief and our thoughts remain with the family, friends and every one of the victims."
The victims' families, through the Justice4the21 campaign group, have long been calling for a public inquiry into the attack.