The families of Birmingham pub bombing victims have been refused legal aid to challenge a ruling that suspects should not be named. Julie Hambleton, whose elder sister Maxine was killed (see picture), told the BBC that the families had been ‘left with our backs against the wall’.
They are challenging a coroner’s decision that IRA suspects would not be named at new inquests. In July this year the senior coroner Sir Peter Thornton QC said: ‘The identity of perpetrators is not a question that an inquest is charged with answering. Indeed, it may be prohibited from expressing its view on this matter.’
The families’ lawyers said the issue was ‘central to the case’ and threatened to boycott the inquests. According to the BBC, Hambleton said the families wanted the investigation to consider ‘who made the bombs, who directed them, who carried them, who planted them and their associates’.
‘We went to the Legal Aid Agency because a judge found that there was sufficient merit for the challenge to be heard before a panel of judges,’ Hambleton told the Daily Mail. ‘The LAA appears not to think there is such merit or sufficient public interest to award public funding for such an important challenge.’
She said the Justice4the21 campaign had raised £17,000 to apply for the judicial review. ‘This is yet another example of how the families are continually being obstructed from getting to the truth and from having fair access [to legal funding].’
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