THE GUILDFORD FOUR: WHAT THE ARCHIVES REVEAL AND WHAT REMAINS CONCEALED
KRW LAW LLP has recently been instructed by Anne McKernan. Anne McKernan is the sister of the Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four, accused in 1974 of an IRA pub bombing in Guildford.
Anne McKernan said:
“Gerry’s conviction was quashed in 1989 following 15 years in prison. Gerry died in 2014. I am now seeking truth, justice and accountability regarding the conviction of my brother and the subsequent internal police investigation, appeal and inquiry into this miscarriage of justice.”
On the basis of research initially undertaken by the BBC at the National Archives at Kew it is becoming clear that the inquiry into the Guildford Four arrest, conviction, sentence and appeal conducted by Sir John May was an attempt to tarnish the reputation of Gerry Conlon pursuant upon his successful appeal. Sir John was critical of the police and the judiciary in the prosecution and conviction but it was clear that he was being persuaded to question the integrity of Gerry Conlon so as to conclude that the original police investigation about him and his colleagues was not entirely without credibility.
So far only a small number of files have been accessed and these constitute internal briefings and guidance notes. Other files seen contain evidence from closed oral hearings. The National Archives hold more than 700 closed files. Forty eight have been open since 1994 and six have been opened this year under Freedom of Information. KRW LAW LLP will be independently assessing the open files and requesting sight of those which remain embargoed. There is an analogy here with the alleged 75 year embargo on files relating to the investigation by the Devon and Cornwall Police of the West Midlands Police investigation of the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974 and the arrest and conviction of the Birmingham Six.
The BBC understand that Surrey Police maintain there is no active investigation into the Guildford Pub Bombings but that the force will review the case if new information emerges.
Christopher Stanley of KRW LAW LLP said:
KRW will be seeking clarification from the Surrey Police on behalf of our client on the status of any investigation. Further, we will be seeking access to the inquests papers. Finally, we will be examining the allegations that the Balcombe Street Siege IRA cell claimed responsibility for the Guildford Pub Bombing: during their trial they instructed their lawyers to
“draw attention to the fact that four totally innocent people were serving massive sentences” for three bombings in Woolwich and Guildford. Yet despite telling the police that they were responsible, they were never charged with these offences. Too many questions continued to be unanswered in this matter and on behalf of Anne McKernan, KRW LAW LLP will be pursuing the truth as far as we can.”