Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Pub bombings family to bring civil action against alleged conspirator

The bomb-blasted remains of the Mulberry Bush pub, at the foot of the Rotunda. (PA Media)
The bomb-blasted remains of the Mulberry Bush pub, at the foot of the Rotunda. (PA Media)

The family of a Birmingham pub bombings victim are bringing a civil case for damages in connection with the attacks.

Margaret Smith, the mother of bombings victim Maxine Hambleton, has issued a civil writ against Michael Patrick Reilly.

Ms Smith is also suing the chief constable of West Midlands Police Sir David Thompson, claiming the force’s investigation was conducted negligently and in breach of its statutory duty.

Birmingham pub bombings
The 21 people killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings (Birmingham Inquests/PA)

It is the latest twist in the victims’ relatives’ long-running campaign for justice.

Two bomb blasts ripped apart the Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush pubs in the city centre on the night of November 21, 1974 – killing 21 people and injuring more than 200.

A third bomb failed to go off and was recovered, but later lost, by West Midlands Police.

Mr Reilly, now in his 60s, was previously arrested in November 2020 under the Terrorism Act and questioned by West Midlands Police officers in connection with the pub bombings.

He was unconditionally released following a search of his home address in Belfast.

Birmingham pub bombings
Julie Hambleton, who lost her sister Maxine Hambleton in the 1974 attack (Jacob King/PA)

Mr Reilly has always denied any knowledge of – or involvement in – the bombings.

His lawyer Padraig O’Muirigh said: “I can confirm that legal proceedings have been issued against our client.

“Our client repudiates the claims made by the plaintiff in their entirety and the legal proceedings issued will be strenuously defended.

“My client has never been convicted of any offence in relation to the 1974 pub bombings.”

Nobody has ever been brought to justice for the attacks, which happened at the height of an IRA bombing campaign on mainland Britain.

The Birmingham Six were convicted of involvement in 1975 and jailed for life but freed after 16 years, when the Court of Appeal in 1991 ruled their convictions were unsafe.

The legal move follows a successful 2009 civil action by the families of victims of the 1998 Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland.

However, it took nearly six years for the Omagh campaigners to raise the £2 million needed to fund their case – including an £800,000 grant of government money.

The Hambleton family are applying for legal aid in Northern Ireland to help fund the action, but if unsuccessful will have to turn to donations.

A writ of summons was served at both the West Midlands force’s Birmingham headquarters and on Mr Reilly’s lawyers, in the past month.

The writ has been issued now as the proposed new Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, would ban new civil claims relating to the Troubles.

Julie Hambleton, who was 18-year-old Maxine’s younger sister, said: “Our legal team based in Belfast have sent a writ to Michael Patrick Reilly for us to bring a civil case against him.

“Also, to the chief constable of West Midlands Police David Thompson.”

Ms Hambleton runs the Justice4the21 group, which has in recent years urged authorities to hold a public inquiry into the bombings, which remain unsolved.

She added: “The writ is to sue for damages in the High Court in Belfast for Mr Reilly’s alleged involvement in the murder of Maxine Hambleton who was my sister.”

“This is the only step that is left for families like ours because successive British governments have refused to help aid families like ours in gaining justice any other way,” she said.

“The threshold for a civil case is not as high as a criminal case, as was discovered with the case brought by the Omagh bombing families, who successfully brought a case for the murder of their loved ones.”

A West Midlands Police spokeswoman said: “We can confirm we have received a civil writ.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]