Equality of legal funding for victims' families murdered in Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974
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21 innocent people were murdered en masse in two pubs in the city of Birmingham UK, in 1974. Over 200 survivors were left with life changing injuries. We are the families of those murdered fighting for a full & transparent inquest. However, the Coroner Sir Peter Thornton QC decided that he was going to EXCLUDE the perpetrators (the bomb makers, bomb planters, their associates) from the inquest but allow the 'informer' & 'prior warnings' into the inquest. This is virtually unprecedented. What is the point in discussing the 'informer' & 'prior warnings' if the murderers are not part of the inquest; it is illogical.
As such, we appealed this decision and brought a judicial review against the Coroner's decision, which we won in the High Court. However, the Coroner is now appealing this decision! We have been refused legal aid 5 times. Where we have had to rely on the generosity, kindness & compassion of our fellow British folk to help us raise funds to cover our legal fees. How can this possibly be fair, right, just, or even ethically or morally acceptable in a country that claims to be democratic with a so called 'Rule of Law? Magna Carta states that "no man shall be above the law", but it appears to 10,000s now that there are those who are 'above the law' because West Midlands Police refuse to investigate and look for the murderers of England's biggest and longest unsolved mass murder of the 20th century, leaving many to believe that the British establishment are covering up a very dirty and toxic truth.
The Legal Aid Agency refused our first Judicial Review funding application based on their decision that they believed we had 'minimal chance of winning' - making them both judge & jury! Considering they're meant to be impartial and independent this is quite an astonishing statement for them to make. They instructed us to continue fundraising, which means our current government are advocating for victims' families to commit a crime (it is illegal to go begging in England & Wales) in order to gain funds to find out who committed the biggest mass murder in peace time history! We have applied for legal aid again so that we have equal legal representation at the Coroner's appeal (if he gets permission to do so), but we have again been refused legal aid!
Thank you for taking the time read this synopsis (there is much much more to tell) and we would ask one favour of you please?
We're asking everyone who reads this if they would kindly print off the letter below, sign it and post it to: Rt Hon Theresa May, Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street, Westminster, London, SW1A 2AA:
Dear Prime Minister
Re: Public Funding in the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974 Judicial Review
I write to you to express my grave concern regarding the failure of the government to provide public funding to enable the families of 10 of the victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974 to be able to effectively participate in the appeal to the Court of Appeal by the Coroner to the Inquest on the core matter of ‘the perpetrators’ – who made, carried, planted, authorised the bombs and who were their accomplices and associates?
This judicial review was applied for by the families when the Coroner to the Inquests Ruled out of the Scope the core matter of the perpetrators. An application was made to the High Court which deemed there was merit to have the matter heard. The judicial review was heard before the Divisional Court who gave judgment in favour of the families and ordered the Coroner review his Ruling on this point.
Now the Coroner has applied to the Court of Appeal for the judgment of the High Court to be reviewed. The Coroner has endorsed the need for public funding to be made available to the families so they can effectively participate in the proceedings of the Court of Appeal with the benefit of legal representation. This is because of the importance of the issue to this inquest but also for all other complex multi-death inquests where there are questions of fault, liability and responsibility.
The application to the High Court was refused legal aid by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) which saw no merit in it. The application was funded by public subscription – holding out buckets at football matches. Now the LAA has refused legal aid because none of the claimants are now financially eligible – they are ‘decent ordinary working people’ – the people you pledged to serve with humility.
The present funding system for complex inquests – concerning the deaths of innocent victims – and legal proceedings which arise from – is not fit for purpose and iniquitous.
I ask you for immediate action on this injustice in the public funding system for legal aid which maintains a blatant inequality of arms. Public funding in the matter of the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974 judicial review must be made available immediately and the current funding regime be subject to immediate independent scrutiny to avoid this situation ever occurring again.
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