Society - The Birmingham Six - Their Own Story



On 21 November, 1974, the Mulberry Bush pub at the foot of the citys Rotunda tower and the nearby Tavern in the Town, were both destroyed within minutes of each other.Six men imprisoned for the attacks had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal, after 16 years in jail, in March 1991.The Birmingham Six - Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker - were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975.Human-rights lawyer Gareth Peirce who helped free the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four is now leading the fight for justice for the family of Jean Charles de Menezes. Here she is interviewed:I.R.A. suspects the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six spent years in jail before you secured their release. Do their cases offer lessons for today? "I think these cases were an object lesson in how not to do things. It was a very belated dawning that unless an entire national community and the reasons for the conflict were understood, and a political solution devised, there could never be an end to the armed struggle. Now that message has been ignored - there is a completely baffling and frightening failure to understand what motivates political Islam."So you see parallels with the current situation? "Speaking to one of the Guildford Four recently, his reaction is: "Those poor guys, those Muslims - thats exactly what happened to us. Has nobody learned?""The Guildford Fours story was the subject of a film, In the Name of the Father.In August 1975 they were sentenced to life in prison on the basis of the false confessions. The men were denied the right to appeal and forced to wait until 1987 when their case was referred to the Court of Appeal, after new evidence emerged, before being rejected.Public protests kept the case in the spotlight until August 1990 when forensic investigations showed their confessions had been tampered with.