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A-Z of the Birmingham Six.

AANALYSIS Part of the case against the Birmingham Six rested on whether police notes from 'confession' interviews with one of them - Richard McIlkenny - were a continuous record or had been fabricated.

During the men's final appeal the Crown accepted it could not rely on any police evidence after electrostatic document analysis showed discrepancies in notes of the McIlkenny interviews and indicated they were not written contemporaneously as officers had said on oath.

Lord Farquharson said: "At best officers were lying when they said noting of the interview was contemporaneous. At worst they must have put their heads together to fabricate part or the whole of the interview."

B Lord BRIDGE of Harwich The judge attracted criticism and controversy over his handling of the Birmingham Six trial.

During the proceedings he was unwell. He had to consult a dentist, sought treatment for acute gastritis, had an afterlunch nap on doctor's orders and lost his voice while summing up.

But it was his apparent bias towards the prosecution which rankled most with the defendants. He made it plain he did not believe the confessions were beaten out of them.

In his summing up he told jurors: "I am of the opinion, not shared by all my brothers on the bench that, if a judge has formed a clear view, it is better to let the jury see that and say so and not pretend to be a kind of Olympian detached observer."

He died in 2007.

CCASE CLOSED This was the 1994 decision following a threeyear inquiry by West Midlands Police into the pub bombings.

Announcing the results of the inquiry the then Chief Constable Ron Hadfield said: "The file so far as we are concerned is now closed. We have done everything we could possibly have done to bring the perpetrators to justice." There was insufficient evidence to support any further criminal proceedings according to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

DDOG "Every dog has his day," was the philosphical observation of one of the Birmingham Six, Richard Mcllkenny, during their triumphal appearance in the street outside the Old Bailey after finally winning their freedom in 1991.

EESTOPPEL The Birmingham Six brought a civil claim for damages against West Midlands Police in 1977 which was struck out in 1980 by the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) under the principal of estoppel. This is a complex doctrine that may be used in certain situations to prevent a person from relying upon certain rights, or upon a set of facts which is different from an earlier set of facts.

F Dr FRANK Skuse The incompetent forensic scientist whose flawed conclusions - later totally discredited - played a major part in the conviction of the Six.

He used the results of the Griess Test to claim Paddy Hill and Billy Power had handled explosives. Later Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry tests were negative for Power and contradictory for Hill.

Skuse's 99 per cent certainty that both men had explosive traces on their hands was fundamentally opposed by defence expert Dr Hugh Black, a former Chief Inspector of Explosives with the Home Office). Many years later it was shown that soap or the polymer on playing cards - such as the men had used on the boat train from Birmingham to Heysham, could have caused similar results.

GGUILTY & GESTAPO On Friday, August 15, 1975, the jury foreman said the word "guilty" 126 times as the Birmingham Six were each convicted of the murders of the 21 pub bombing victims - and for which they were each given 21 life sentences.

In his final speech, Harry Skinner QC, who led the prosecution case, described the police brutality alleged by the Six as like that of Hitler's Gestapo.

He added: "In my recollection, Hitler's Gestapo did not bother about confessions. They were going to execute you whatever you said."

H Dr Kenneth HARWOOD & HANGING Dr Kenneth Harwood, a Winson Green prison doctor told the trial that he was sure all the injuries received by the Six were caused while they were in police custody. Judge Bridge, in his summing-up, said this was "blatant nonsense."

Opponents of the death penalty are quick to point out that if every a case emphasised why it should never be re-instated, it is this one. Capital punishment for murder had been abolished in the UK 12 months prior to the pub bombings. Such was the fury in the immediate aftermath of the attacks that lynch mobs roamed the streets and nooses were hung over the gates at the homes of some of the Birmingham Six. Many demanded that it be brought back when the men were sentenced. But, as later events proved, had they gone to the gallows, the country would have executed innocent men.

IINTERRUPTIONS Quite apart from those caused by the judge's various ailments, there were others, too. Only two days into the trial the whole thing was halted for a 400-year ceremony involving the High Sheriff of Lancashire and Lord Derby, the Constable of the Castle, so that a shield could be hung on one of the walls.

JJUSTICE The famous phrase by Paddy Hill on being released in 1991 and refering to the courts from which he had stepped: "Justice? Those people in there don't even know how to spell the word."

KKILLERS The Birmingham Six were wrongly convicted and the real killers have avoided the courts and justice but remain responsible for one of the biggest acts of mass murder in UK criminal history.

LLANCASTER Crown Court & LORD LANE, former Chief Justice of England and Wales W Lancaster Crown Court, which was part of the 900-year-old Lancaster Castle complex hosted the trial, which up until then was the biggest of its kind in British history. Birmingham could not have hosted it because of fears that jury members would be too biased. Lane was best known for his judgement in throwing out an appeal of the Birmingham Six before their convictions were later quashed.

At the time he famously said: "The longer this case has gone on, the more convinced this court has become that the verdict of the jury (at Lancaster Crown Court in 1975) was correct."

Those words haunted him throughout his retirement for the convictions were quashed four years later.

He died in 2005.

MMISCARRIAGES of Justice, MICROPHONES & Chris MULLIN The wrongful jailing of the Birmingham Six remains one of the biggest miscarriages of Chris Mullin MP | justice in UK criminal legal history.

Dr Michael Naughton, founder of the UK Innocence Project,claimed recently that miscarriage were "systematic."

"Every single day, people are overturning convictions for criminal offences. Miscarriages of justice are routine, even mundane features of the criminal justice system," he said. Microphones had to be brought into court because the judge couldn't hear the evidence of Hugh Callaghan and Billy Power, both softly spoken men.

Chris Mullin is a journalist and Labour MP for Sunderland South from 1987 to 2010, who led a campaign which resulted in the release of the Birmingham Six and wrote a book on the case called Error of Judgement: The Truth about the Birmingham bombings.

led a campaign which resulted in the release of the Birmingham Six and wrote a book on the case called Error of Judgement: The Truth about the Birmingham bombings.

NNby the jury at the end of the trial of the Birmingham Six.

NOT Guilty Only one not guilty verdict was returned by the jury at the end of the trial of the Birmingham Six.

This was in relation to James Kelly, one of three other men who stood alongside the Six in the dock but faced lesser charges.

Kelly, one of three other men who stood alongside the Six in the dock but faced lesser charges.

Kelly, Michael Murray and Michael Sheehan were all charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and Kelly and Sheehan were also charged with unlawful possession of explosives.

Kelly was cleared of the conspiracy charge. Although he was convicted of possessing explosives and given a year behind bars, because of the length of time he spent in custody awaiting trial, he was freed within a few days.

OOUTSIDE When the Birmingham Six were released they were pretty much left to fend for themselves and were never offered adequate psychological help. Solicitor Gareth Peirce, who represented some of the Six, said in 2010 that the government had repeatedly promised that something will be set up to help victims of miscarriages of justice, "but every promise has not been fulfilled."

P Gareth PEIRCE The renowned human rights solicitor who represented some of the Birmingham Six as well as the Guildford Four and the family of Jean Charles de Menezes.

QQUASHED The Court of Appeal finally released the Birmingham Six in 1991 and quashed their convictions for the pub bombings after "grave doubt" was cast on the police and forensic science evidence.

R Detective Superintendent George READE, Chief Superintendent Harry ROBINSON & ROYAL Commission George Reade assured the trial judge, Mr In connection with allegations that confessions were beaten out of the Six, Det Supt George Reade assured the trial judge, Mr Justice Bridge, that his men had operated with utmost propriety and to the highest standard.

George | being imprisoned immediately after the As the Six were being imprisoned immediately after the trial, the judge told Chief Supt Robinson he was entirely satisfied with the verdicts the jury reached and that investigations had been carried out "with scrupulous propriety by all your officers."

As the crowds were cheering the released Birmingham Six on Thursday, March 14, 1991, Home Secretary, Kenneth Baker, was on his feet in the House of Commons.

Announcing a Royal Commission to review all stages of the criminal process, he said: "All of us must be disturbed by what has occurred." The review would examine the role of the police, prosecution, forensic scientists,the Court of Appeal and the Home Office.

"The aim will be to minimise so far as possible the likelihood of such events happening again."

The commission reported in 1993 and led to the Criminal Appeal Act which established the Criminal Cases Review Commission in 1997.

The commission reported in 1993 and led to the Criminal Appeal Act which established the Criminal Cases Review Commission in 1997.

Reade SHarold SKINNER QC Legend has it that after Paddy Hill had given evidence at Lancaster Crown Court, Skinner sent him a note saying if he was cleared he would buy him a drink as he was one of the best witnesses he had seen in all his years at the bar.

T IME served & TRAUMA TTTRAUMA counselling The Birmingham Six were wrongly jailed for 16 years, three months and 23 days.

In 2010, 18 years after his conviction was overturned, presided over by Mr Justice Swanick.

The release of the Birmingham Six was a watershed for British justice. In the following months there was a string of further releases. Almost 30 other people went on to either have convictions quashed or charges against them dropped after evidence from West Midlands detectives was discredited.

XKISSES The hundreds of kisses put on nearly 17 years' worth of birthday and Christmas cards to the jailed Six by their wives and children.

YYEARS It is now 23 years since the Birmingham Six were released. The police have never arrested anyone else for the Birmingham pub bombings.

ZZERO There has never been an official apology to the Birmingham Six from the police, but earlier this year, Paddy Hill said that, in any case, any acknowledgement of regret would be "useless and meaningless" now.

Paddy Hill won another fight for intensive trauma counselling. Consultant psychiatrist Gordon Turnbull, who helped Terry Waite and John McCarthy after their hostage ordeal in Beirut, described Hill as one of the most traumatised people he had ever come across.

UUNDERSTATEMENT As the Six emerged triumphantly from the Old Bailey, it was Richard McIlkenny who took to the microphone to address the euphoric crowd. "It's good to see you all," were his opening words.

VVISTA In 1980 it fell to Lord Lane to rule whether a civil action launched by the Six against the police could go ahead.

Dismissing it, he famously said that if the Six won it would mean the police were guilty of perjury and violence and threats..and that the convictions were erroneous. "This is such an appalling vista that every sensible person would say 'it cannot be right these actions go any further. They should be struck out."

WWINSON Green& WATERSHED Fourteen Winson Green prison officers were charged with assault in 1975 but all were acquitted at a trial


Discredited forensic scientist Dr Frank Skuse |

Chris Mullin MP |

George Reade |

The Birmingham Six on their way into court in 1974, opposite, and on their release in 1991 |
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
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Date:Nov 21, 2014
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