No new probe on Birmingham pub bombings, angry relatives told

There will be no new investigation into the Birmingham pub bombings, it was revealed today.

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Julie Hambleton speaks to the media after her meeting with West Midlands Police

Relatives of a victim of the outrage met with West Midlands Police today and were given the news.

The meeting got off to a sour start when the family was told they couldn’t take in anyone who wasn’t a relative.

There were heated scenes in the reception of the force's Lloyd House HQ, which were caught on video by the Express & Star.

When it finally got under way, Brian Hambleton and his sister Julie Hambleton were given the news.

Mr Sims said: "Nothing would give me more satisfaction than to bring those responsible for this atrocity to justice.

"However we have found no new evidence that would assist us in bringing anyone to justice for the pub bombings.

The Hambletons' 18-year-old sister Maxine Hambleton was among 21 victims killed by the explosions that injured 182 more people as they tore through the Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush pubs in Birmingham on November 21, 1974.

West Midlands Police have just completed a near two-year reassessment of evidence. Chief Constable Chris Sims revealed the findings in Birmingham today.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: "“I have real sympathy for the emotion and agony endured by the families of those killed. I want to be clear that I admire the dedication shown to keep the tragedy in the public eye. The bombings and those who died should never be forgotten.

“The assessment we are undertaking began in June 2012. We have collated and preserved some 18,500 items, including information from the original investigation in 1974 and the 1991-1994 investigation. In excess of 9000 items required assessment and we have also commissioned an independent review of the potential forensic evidence.

“There have been questions over the years why certain individuals such as the people named by the media apparently never formed part of any investigation. I want to be open and transparent today and tell you that these men had been subject to investigation in the 1970s and the 1991-94 investigation. There was insufficient evidence for proceedings against any person.

“The starting point for my considerations was the words of then Chief Constable, Sir Ron Hadfield and Dame Barbara Mills (DPP) when announcing the conclusion of the reinvestigation in 1994. The DPP expressed satisfaction with that investigation and both noted the absence of any other ‘reasonable lines of enquiry’.

West Midlands Police Chief Constable Chris Sims
West Midlands Police Chief Constable Chris Sims

“My professional judgement is that the 1991-94 investigation was carried out to a good standard."

"Nothing would give me more satisfaction than to bring those responsible for this atrocity to justice.

"However we have found no new evidence that would assist us in bringing anyone to justice for the pub bombings.

“I have been able to share with these families further details regarding the tragic events of that night. I am sorry that families were not kept up to date or engaged with as is standard practice today. 40 years ago was a different era and a different force.

“However, I make this pledge today – I would like to offer families of those who died or people who were hurt on the night to be given as much information as possible to answer the questions that we can. I would ask them to contact us so we can start that process.”

Mr Sims concluded by reassuring the families that this investigation remains open: “It is always possible that brand new and significant information could become available to us – let me be clear – this case is not closed.”