Families of Birmingham pub bombing victims have been refused legal aid to challenge a ruling that IRA suspects should not be named in new inquests into the 1974 blasts.
Julie Hambleton, whose elder sister Maxine was one of 21 killed when two bombs went off in the city centre, said families have been left ‘with our backs against the wall’.
In July Senior coroner Sir Peter Thornton QC said suspects would not be named in the hearings next year.
Campaign group ‘Justice4the21’ want to appeal this at a High Court hearing set for 6 and 7 December but they need money to fund the process.
Julie Hambleton, sister of Birmingham pub bombings victim Maxine Hambleton, speaks to the media outside Council House in Solihull in June last year
Mrs Hambleton today said the Legal Aid Agency ‘appears not to think there is such merit or sufficient public interest’.
She added: ‘Our challenge is to argue against his decision to rule out of the investigation the issue of perpetrators – who made the bombs, who directed them, who carried them, who planted them and their associates.
‘This is yet another example of how the families are continually being obstructed from getting to the truth and from having fair access [to legal funding].
‘We are therefore now with our backs against the wall – again – with important deadlines to be met before the two day hearing in December and urgently require £20,000 to continue to fund our legal representation so we can argue our case at its highest.’
A Legal Aid Agency spokesman said: ‘Our deepest sympathies remain with the families of the victims of the horrific Birmingham pub bombings. However, funding can only be granted to legal aid applications that satisfy the strict criteria set by law.’
In July Senior coroner Sir Peter Thornton QC said suspects would not be named in the hearings next year. Pictured is the Mulberry Bush in Birmingham in November 1974
A Legal Aid Agency spokesman said: ‘Our deepest sympathies remain with the families of the victims of the horrific Birmingham pub bombings.’ Pictured is the Mulberry Bush
The victims’ families have now set up a crowdfunding page in a bid to fund the minimum £20,000 cost of the hearing and counsel.
In July families vowed to boycott the inquests when the coroner said ‘the perpetrator issue’ was not to be part of the hearings.
A statement published by Justice4the21, the main campaign group representing many of the relatives, hours before the pre-inquest review said it will ‘no longer participate’.
No one has been charged with the attacks since six men were freed from prison after their convictions were overturned in 1991.
Pictured is Pat Sheppard, who was injured in one of the bombings, being helped by a man
Four men, including a police officer, are seen carrying out a body after the bombings