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Birmingham pub bombing family bring civil claims for damages Birmingham pub bombing family bring civil claims for damages
(32 minutes later)
The action is being taken on behalf of pub bombing victim Maxine HambletonThe action is being taken on behalf of pub bombing victim Maxine Hambleton
The family of a Birmingham pub bombings victim are bringing a civil case for damages in connection with the attacks 48 years ago.The family of a Birmingham pub bombings victim are bringing a civil case for damages in connection with the attacks 48 years ago.
Maxine Hambleton was one of 21 people who died when two bombs exploded at pubs in the city in November 1974.Maxine Hambleton was one of 21 people who died when two bombs exploded at pubs in the city in November 1974.
Her mother Margaret Smith has issued a writ against Michael Patrick Reilly, who was previously arrested in connection with the attacks.Her mother Margaret Smith has issued a writ against Michael Patrick Reilly, who was previously arrested in connection with the attacks.
He has always denied any involvement in the bombings.He has always denied any involvement in the bombings.
Ms Smith is also suing Sir David Thompson, the chief constable of West Midlands Police, claiming the force's investigation was conducted negligently.Ms Smith is also suing Sir David Thompson, the chief constable of West Midlands Police, claiming the force's investigation was conducted negligently.
Mr Reilly, who is now in his 60s, was questioned two years ago under the Terrorism Act, but was unconditionally released following a search of his home address in Belfast.Mr Reilly, who is now in his 60s, was questioned two years ago under the Terrorism Act, but was unconditionally released following a search of his home address in Belfast.
His lawyer Padraig O'Muirigh said: "Our client repudiates the claims made by the plaintiff in their entirety and the legal proceedings issued will be strenuously defended.His lawyer Padraig O'Muirigh said: "Our client repudiates the claims made by the plaintiff in their entirety and the legal proceedings issued will be strenuously defended.
"My client has never been convicted of any offence in relation to the 1974 pub bombings.""My client has never been convicted of any offence in relation to the 1974 pub bombings."
West Midlands Police and Mr O'Muirigh confirmed the writs had been received.West Midlands Police and Mr O'Muirigh confirmed the writs had been received.
The attacks happened at the height of an IRA bombing campaign on mainland Britain and the Birmingham Six were convicted of involvement in 1975 and jailed for life. Assistant Chief Constable Matt Ward said: "West Midlands Police remains committed to bringing to justice those responsible for the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings atrocity.
But they were freed after 16 years, when the Court of Appeal in 1991 ruled their convictions were unsafe. "We know the families feel the pain every bit as much now as they did then and we understand their frustration and desire for answers regarding the events of that terrible day."
The attacks happened at the height of an IRA bombing campaign on mainland Britain. Six people, who became known as the Birmingham Six, were convicted of involvement in 1975 and jailed for life.
They were freed after 16 years, when the Court of Appeal in 1991 ruled their convictions were unsafe.
Julie Hambleton, the sister of Maxine Hambleton, has campaigned for a public inquiryJulie Hambleton, the sister of Maxine Hambleton, has campaigned for a public inquiry
The writ has been issued now because the proposed new Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, would ban new civil claims relating to the Troubles.The writ has been issued now because the proposed new Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, would ban new civil claims relating to the Troubles.
Julie Hambleton, who was 18-year-old Maxine's younger sister, said: "This is the only step that is left for families like ours because successive British governments have refused to help aid families like ours in gaining justice any other way," Julie Hambleton, who was 18-year-old Maxine's younger sister, said: "This is the only step that is left for families like ours because successive British governments have refused to help aid families like ours in gaining justice any other way."
She is a key member of the Justice4the21 group, which has in recent years urged authorities to hold a public inquiry into the bombings, which remain unsolved.She is a key member of the Justice4the21 group, which has in recent years urged authorities to hold a public inquiry into the bombings, which remain unsolved.
She added: "The threshold for a civil case is not as high as a criminal case, as was discovered with the case brought by the Omagh bombing families, who successfully brought a case for the murder of their loved ones."She added: "The threshold for a civil case is not as high as a criminal case, as was discovered with the case brought by the Omagh bombing families, who successfully brought a case for the murder of their loved ones."
Twenty-one people were killed in two blasts on 21 November 1974Twenty-one people were killed in two blasts on 21 November 1974
In 2009 civil action by the families of victims of the 1998 Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland was successful in claiming damages.In 2009 civil action by the families of victims of the 1998 Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland was successful in claiming damages.
However, it took nearly six years for the Omagh campaigners to raise the £2m needed to fund their case.However, it took nearly six years for the Omagh campaigners to raise the £2m needed to fund their case.
The Hambleton family are applying for legal aid in Northern Ireland to help fund the action, but may seek donations.The Hambleton family are applying for legal aid in Northern Ireland to help fund the action, but may seek donations.
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