FAMILIES of the victims killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings have finally been granted legal aid just days before an inquest proceedings into the suspected IRA terror attacks is due to start.
The bombings, which killed 21 people and injured 182 others, and the subsequent “investigation” became one of the most infamous miscarriages of justice in British legal history after six wholly innocent Irishmen — the Birmingham Six as they became known: Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Joseph Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker —spent 16 years in prison before their sentences were finally quashed in 1991.
No-one has ever been convicted of the atrocities and the families of those killed have still not received justice.
The families asked Home Secretary Amber Rudd to establish a fund similar to that created for the Hillsborough families to cover the costs for an inquest, but the request was turned down.
She did however back an application for legal aid funding through the conventional route of the independent Legal Aid Agency.
The government confirmed that one application for funding has now been granted.
But Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley Jess Phillips attacked the timing of the funding decision and said the victims had been “largely forgotten” as she read their names aloud during an adjournment debate in the Commons.
She said: “Without the fight from the families and the generosity of their lawyers, the inquest would never, ever have been resumed.”
Fellow Birmingham MP Richard Burden demanded an answer from the government on “the months that the families had to wait, those just last few months between the inquest being granted and hearing the legal aid being granted, that just shows lack of respect and I do think an apology for that extra delay is something that would be useful.”