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
Julie Hambleton, who lost her sister Maxine in the attack (PA)

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.

15 PHOTOS
Birmingham Pub Bombings
See Gallery
Birmingham Pub Bombings
Tavern in the Town, Pub. Bomb Damage, Fire Brigade Police Investigation, 23rd November 1974. Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974. Tavern in the Town, a central Birmingham pub, bombed 21st November 1974, one of several bombings. Altogether, 21 people were killed and 182 people were injured. (Photo by Birmingham Post and Mail Archive/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
File photo dated 22/11/74 of bomb damaged and shattered bus shelter in New street, Birmingham, after two pubs were bombed. The inquest into the Birmingham pub bombings opens at Birmingham Civil Justice Centre today.
File photo dated 22/11/74 of the aftermath of the fatal bomb attack on the Mulberry Bush pub in Birmingham. West Midlands Police said a 65-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the murders of 21 people in the 1974 pub bombings in Birmingham.
File photo dated 22/11/74 of a mass of rubble, the remnants of the Mulberry Bush pub in Birmingham, one of the two pubs in Birmingham where bombs exploded. The inquest into the Birmingham pub bombings opens at Birmingham Civil Justice Centre today.
File photo dated 22/11/74 of the wreckage left at The Tavern in the Town pub in Birmingham after a bomb exploded in an underground bar. The inquest into the Birmingham pub bombings opens at Birmingham Civil Justice Centre today.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visits the scene of the Birmingham Pub Bombings, 25th November 1974. (Photo by Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visits the Mulberry Bush pub, one of the scene's of the Birmingham Pub Bombings, 25th November 1974. (Photo by Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
The Birmingham pub bombings took place on Thursday 21st November 1974 and were attributed to the Provisional IRA. The devices were placed in two central Birmingham pubs: the Mulberry Bush at the foot of the Rotunda, and the Tavern in the Town, a basement pub on New Street. The resulting explosions, at 20:25 and 20:27, 21 people were killed (ten at the Mulberry Bush and eleven at the Tavern in the Town) and 182 people were injured. A third device, outside a bank on Hagley Road, failed to detonate. Pictured: Scenes outside court where men accused of bombings were being arraigned, 25th November 1974. (Photo by Birmingham Post and Mail Archive/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Damage and debris at the Mulberry Bush, location of one of the two pub bombings on 21st November 1974, in Birmingham, West Midlands, England, 23rd November 1974. The bombings, which were attributed to the Provisional IRA, took place in two central Birmingham pubs, killing 21 and injuring 182 people. (Photo by David Cairns/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Damage and debris at the Mulberry Bush, location of one of the two pub bombings on 21st November 1974, in Birmingham, West Midlands, England, 23rd November 1974. The bombings, which were attributed to the Provisional IRA, took place in two central Birmingham pubs, killing 21 and injuring 182 people. (Photo by David Cairns/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A police officer stands before the damage caused by one of the two pub bombings which hit the city on 21st November 1974, in Birmingham, West Midlands, England, 23rd November 1974. The bombings, which were attributed to the Provisional IRA, took place in two central Birmingham pubs, killing 21 and injuring 182 people. (Photo by Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The Birmingham pub bombings took place on Thursday 21st November 1974 and were attributed to the Provisional IRA. The devices were placed in two central Birmingham pubs: the Mulberry Bush at the foot of the Rotunda, and the Tavern in the Town, a basement pub on New Street. The resulting explosions, at 20:25 and 20:27, 21 people were killed (ten at the Mulberry Bush and eleven at the Tavern in the Town) and 182 people were injured. A third device, outside a bank on Hagley Road, failed to detonate. Pictured: A fireman searches through the wreckage of the Mulberry Bush pub underneath the Rotunda in Birmingham City Centre, 22nd November 1974. (Photo by Arthur Sidey/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Tavern in the Town, Pub, 22nd November 1974. Police officers inspect bomb damage. Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974. The Tavern in the Town, a central Birmingham pub was bombed 21st November 1974, one of several bombings. Altogether, 21 people were killed and 182 people were injured. (Photo by Birmingham Post and Mail Archive/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
22nd November 1974: Firemen survey the damage outside the Birmingham pub, 'Tavern in the Town', after an IRA bomb blast. (Photo by Wesley/Keystone/Getty Images)
22nd November 1974: The wrecked interior of the Mulberry Bush public house, Birmingham, after the explosion of a bomb planted by the IRA. Another bomb exploded on the same night (21st November) at the Tavern in the Town, Birmingham. 19 people lost their lives in the two explosions and many were injured. (Photo by Wesley/Keystone/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

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.

Read Full Story Click here to comment

FROM OUR PARTNERS