Citing new questions about police evidence, the government today ordered the Court of Appeal to review the convictions of six Irish men serving life sentences for bombings that killed 21 people.
It was a victory for the so-called Birmingham Six in a prolonged campaign to prove they were unjustly convicted of the 1974 Irish Republican Army bombings.
The Home Office said apparent discrepancies were found in police notes of an interview with one of the convicts, Richard McIlkenny. Scientific tests indicated that some pages were written at different times, it said.
“This is very good news,” Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey said in Dublin. Relations between Britain and Ireland have been strained by the Birmingham Six and other British court cases involving IRA activities.
Five of the six men were arrested Nov. 21, 1974, a few hours after the bombings, as they were about to board a ferry to Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the funeral of an IRA man.
McIlkenny, Johnny Walker, Patrick Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Gerry Hunter and Billy Power were convicted of murder for bombing two pubs in Birmingham, killing 21 people and injuring 162. All six were jailed for life in 1975.