THE GUILDFORD PUB BOMBINGS 1974: IRISH LAWYERS APPLY TO CORONER TO RESUME INQUEST
KRW LAW LLP is instructed by Ann McKearnan, the sister of Gerry Conlon. Gerry Conlon was one of the Guildford Four wrongfully imprisoned for The Guildford Pub Bombings 1974. Gerry Conlon died in 2014. KRW is also assisting one of the young soldiers who survived the bombing of The Horse and Groom Pub in Guildford. This former soldier wishes to remain anonymous but whose life has been traumatised by the bombing. The bomb in The Horse and Groom killed four soldiers and one civilian.
Last month we applied to the Attorney General for England and Wales for him to consider ordering a new police investigation into the bombings, specifically regarding the original investigation by the Surrey Police, the original prosecution of The Guildford Four and the subsequent inconclusive findings of the Inquiry chair by Sir John May.
Following being allowed access to the original inquest papers, we have now applied to the Senior Coroner for Surrey for him to exercise his authority to resume the original inquests on the basis that they were never completed following the successful conviction of The Guildford Four. The Senior Coroner received our application on Monday of this week.
We have argued that the Senior Coroner has jurisdiction, powers and sufficient reason to resume the inquests and to conduct an independent investigation. We hope he will encourage relatives of the victims to come forward and to effectively participate, should they wish to do so, into this investigation into the tragic deaths of their loved ones. We contend that this resumption would serve the interests of those we represent, the victims of the pub bombings and the wider public interest.
Our clients want answers as to why there was no subsequent police investigation following the release of The Guildford Four, why questions remain over the original prosecution, why the admissions by the Balcombe Street PIRA ASU were never properly followed up, and why the May Inquiry took evidence in secret and came to the conclusions it did.
For our clients these inquests would be an exercise in their right to truth, justice and accountability – the last opportunity they have to participate in an independent judicial investigation where their questions might be answered.
Kevin Winters said: “Our experience of assisting victims and relatives of the Conflict in Northern Ireland, and more recently in relation to The Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974, shows to us that effective victim and survivor participation in a fresh or resumed inquest – as an independent truth seeking mechanism conducted in accordance with human rights standards – can provide an important venue for truth seeking and resolution within the frame of the coronial process. The victims the of Birmingham and Guildford bombings – and those communities – are entitled as a matter of law, and indeed internationally binding legal agreement, to have access to a judicially supervised forum which provides unambiguous access to truth recovery.”