In the Media

Birmingham Six demand for apology

PUBLISHED March 17, 2006

One of the Birmingham Six has threatened the government with legal action unless it publicly apologises as it did to the Guildford Four.

Paddy Hill, who was released 15 years ago after serving 16 years in jail, was wrongly convicted for IRA bomb attacks in the 1970s.

Proceedings would also be taken over the government's failure to reintegrate the six men back into society, he said.

Mr Hill, 62, told Irish state radio RTE the past 15 years had been very hard.

He criticised Prime Minister Tony Blair for not acknowledging the Birmingham Six's plight when he openly apologised to the families of Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four and Annie Maguire last year.

Like the Birmingham Six, Conlon and Maguire were wrongfully convicted in connection with IRA bomb attacks in the UK the 1970s. They served 15 years in prison.

"I have no idea why he [Tony Blair] left us out," said Mr Hill, who runs the Miscarriage of Justice organisation from his home in Scotland.


"I wrote to him and told him I commended him for having the courage to stand up and do it, but told him I was a bit disappointed that while he was apologising to the Conlon and Maguire families he didn't apologise to the other Irish great miscarriage of justices in the 1970s, namely Judith Ward and the Birmingham Six.

"A few weeks later I got a letter from his private secretary Anthony Phillips telling me Tony Blair would be writing to me when it was appropriate, but I've never had a word since then.

In correspondence

"I did send word back to them two weeks ago telling them I was going to take action against them."

A Downing Street spokesman confirmed the letter had been received and said officials were in correspondence with Mr Hill.

Six Birmingham-based Irishmen - Paddy Hill, Billy Power, Richard McIlkenny, Hugh Callaghan, Gerry Hunter and John Walker - were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975 for Birmingham pub bombings which killed 21 people and maimed or seriously injured 161.

Despite pleas that the confessions had been obtained through beatings, they were not freed until March 1991.

In 2000, Mr Hill was offered a final settlement of more than ?960,000 - with ?50,000 charged for bed and board for his years behind bars.