MPs criticise fine for Birmingham pub bombings campaigners as ‘morally wrong’


Two Conservative MPs have said it is "morally wrong" for police to fine six people for alleged Covid-19 breaches after they organised an anniversary convoy to mark the Birmingham pub bombings.

Campaigner Julie Hambleton said she and five others were fined £200 each just before Christmas for joining the motorcade through Birmingham, on November 21 last year.

Ms Hambleton, whose sister Maxine was among 21 people killed by IRA bombers in 1974, denied any wrongdoing, adding: "I am not paying the fine."

Nicola Richards, MP for West Bromwich East, and Gary Sambrook, MP for Birmingham Northfield, wrote to West Midlands chief constable Sir Dave Thompson on Friday.

Birmingham pub bombings
Birmingham pub bombings

They said: "It is deeply concerning and morally wrong to fine the victim's families of a terrorist attack who are campaigning for justice.

"While mass protests have been allowed to go unchecked through our city throughout the year.

"This is an inconsistent approach and from the outside incredibly bias.

"We hope you and the force reconsider this policy. And take note to our outrage and dissatisfaction in how the police have handled this."

West Midlands Police has been approached for comment.

The notice issued to Ms Hambleton said she contravened a rule "to not participate in a gathering of more than two people" outside West Midlands Police's city headquarters at Lloyd House, where the convoy broke up.

The force has said it had issued notices to a number of people for an alleged breach in Colmore Circus, Birmingham, "following a review" of the circumstances.

While Miss Hambleton did get out of her vehicle outside Lloyd House, she said it was only to briefly thank people and wish them well for their journeys home – and she said she remained socially distanced.

She added that nobody from the force came out to warn those outside.

On the night of November 21 1974, at the height of an IRA bombing campaign in England, two deadly devices detonated in the packed Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush.

The blasts also injured more than 200 people.

The Birmingham Six were convicted of involvement but their convictions later quashed by the Court of Appeal after a botched investigation by West Midlands Police led to one of the worst miscarriages in British legal history.

Nobody has ever been held to account for the killings, although the force did arrest and release a man from Belfast in connection with the bombings, last year.

Prominent campaigner miss Hambleton said the decision to fine her and the campaign's supporters was "crass".

"It epitomises the sheer contempt for us that we feel senior management at West Midlands Police have for the victims' families," she said.

"If I pay the fine, it would be like stamping on Maxine's memory and the memories of all those who died."
Miss Hambleton said: "The convoy was not disruptive and we worked with the police to make sure it wasn't, and complied with Covid rules.

The Belfast-based law firm KRW Law, representing Miss Hambleton, said a written request to the force's chief constable Mr Thompson to annul the fines had been rejected.