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18 November 2020 14:35

Birmingham pub bombings Provisional Irish Republican Army Birmingham pub bombings

Police have arrested a man in Belfast over the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, which killed 21 victims. Six men, known as the Birmingham Six, were wrongly convicted for the bombings in 1975 and were freed in 1991. On Wednesday, West Midlands Police announced that a suspect had been arrested in Belfast. "A man has been arrested in connection with enquiries into the murders of 21 people in the 1974 pub bombings in Birmingham", a spokeperson said. "Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing West Midlands, working with colleagues from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, arrested a 65-year-old man at his home in Belfast today." The man was arrested under the Terrorism Act and his home is being searched.

Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine died in the bombings, called the arrest the "most monumental event" in the criminal investigation since the quashing of the Birmingham Six convictions. She said she broke down in tears when she was informed by police, adding: "I couldn't speak, I was just inconsolable and was just looking at the picture of Maxine. The bombings struck two pubs in Birmingham on 21 November 1974, killing 21 victims aged between 16 and 51 and injuring more than 200 more. The first bomb detonated inside a bag left in the Mulberry Bush at 8.17pm, followed minutes later by another in the Tavern in the Town. A man had telephoned the Birmingham Post and Mail to warn two bombs had been planted in the city centre less than 10 minutes before the blasts.

The IRA did not claim the bomings but were believed to be responsible, and in 2017 self-confessed bomb maker Michael Hayes said he had been part of the group behind the attacks. Last year, a jury at new inquests into the victims' deaths found they were unlawfully killed in a terror attack by the Provisional IRA. In its verdict, the jury also said that a botched warning call by the republican paramilitary organisation further caused or contributed to the 21 deaths. Last month, the home secretary said she would consider calls from bereaved families for a public inquiry. Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, raised the issue at a recent meeting following years of campaigning.

A man has been arrested in connection with the murder of 21 people in two pub bombings in Birmingham in 1974. Officers from West Midlands Police's counter terrorism unit, working with police in Northern Ireland, arrested a 65-year-old man at his home in Belfast today. In a statement the force said that: "The man was arrested under the Terrorism Act and a search of his home is being carried out. (Image: PA) Ms Patel also wanted to visit Birmingham to meet justice campaigners, including Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine died in the bombings. Responding to news of the arrest Ms Hambleton called it "the most monumental event" in the criminal investigation into the bombings since the quashing of the convictions of the Birmingham Six in 1991.

"I couldn't speak, I was just inconsolable and was just looking at the picture of Maxine," she said. (Image: Handout) On November 21 1974 bombs were set off in two public houses in Birmingham. The men, who became known as the Birmingham Six, maintained their innocence and, after 16 years in prison, their convictions were deemed unsafe and unsatisfactory and were quashed. One of the victims, Maxine Hambleton, 18, had only entered the targeted pub to hand out tickets to friends for her housewarming party. She was killed seconds after entering the pub and had been standing directly beside the bomb when it exploded. A 65-year-old man has been arrested in Belfast in connection with the Provisional IRA's 1974 Birmingham pub bombings that killed 21 people. It is believed to be the first arrest in connection with the IRA attacks made by police since the quashing of the convictions of the Birmingham Six in 1991 when the court of appeal accepted that there had been a miscarriage of justice. The arrest followed a police operation involving officers from the West Midlands police's counter-terrorism policing unit and detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). In a short statement released on Wednesday, the West Midlands force said: "A man has been arrested in connection with inquiries into the murders of 21 people in the 1974 pub bombings in Birmingham. "Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing West Midlands CTU, working with colleagues from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, arrested a 65-year-old man at his home in Belfast today. "The man was arrested under the Terrorism Act and a search of his home is being carried out. Two bombs exploded when the pubs were full of customers, the first inside the Mulberry Bush pub in Birmingham city centre and the second 10 minutes later in the Tavern in the Town. A man has been arrested in connection with Birmingham pub bombings which killed 21 people in 1974. Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing West Midlands CTU, working with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, arrested a 65-year-old man at his home in Belfast today, Wednesday, November 18. He was detained under the Terrorism Act and a search of his home was being carried out, West Midlands Police said. The force said he would be interviewed under caution at a police station in Northern Ireland. The arrest comes just days before the 46th anniversary of the blasts, which ripped apart the packed Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs on the night of November 21, killing 21 and injuring 220 more. It also comes just a month after Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would consider holding a public inquiry into the bombings. A botched warning call by the IRA caused or contributed to the deaths of 21 people killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, an inquest jury at the city's civil court concluded last year. (The Victims of the pub bombings (top row, left to right) Michael Beasley, 30, Stan Bodman, 47, James Craig, 34, Paul Davies, 17, Trevor Thrupp, 33, Desmond Reilly, 20 and James Caddick, 40, (second row, left to right) Maxine Hambleton, 18, Jane Davis, 17, Maureen Roberts, 20, Lynn Bennett, 18, Anne Hayes, 18, Marilyn Nash, 22 and Pamela Palmer, 19, (bottom row, left to right) Thomas Chaytor, 28, Eugene Reilly, 23, Stephen Whalley, 21, John Rowlands, 46, John 'Cliff' Jones, 51, Charles Gray, 44, and Neil Marsh, 16 (no picture available). Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine died in the bombings, said the arrest was "the most monumental event" in the criminal investigation into the bombings since the quashing of the convictions of the Birmingham Six in 1991. She told of how she broke down in tears when she was telephoned by a senior West Midlands Police officer with news of the arrest on Wednesday. "I couldn't speak, I was just inconsolable and was just looking at the picture of Maxine," she said. "It's welcome news. Ms Hambleton, who is part of campaign group Justice for the 21, said: "It's something we have been waiting a long time for. The pub bombings were the deadliest post-Second World War attack on the British mainland, until the 7/7 London terrorist attacks in 2005.