PUB BOMBING RELATIVE AND SUPPORTERS TO PLEAD NOT GUILTY TODAY FOLLOWING WMP DECISION TO PROSECUTE CONCERNING EVENTS AT THE 21 NOVEMBER 2020 ANNIVERSARY CONVOY OF REMEMBRANCE
KRW LAW LLP (KRW) is instructed by ten of the families of those killed in The Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974. The 21 November 2020 saw another anniversary of the pub bombings and out of respect and in solidarity for those that have been tragically bereaved by Covid-19, the usual service and acts of remembering were cancelled.
However, on the cancellation of these acts of remembering, supporters of the Justice for the 21 (J421) Campaign Group contacted Julie Hambleton in large numbers to offer genuine support and to organise a carefully planned vehicle convoy as a substitute to the annual act of remembrance.
J4the21 campaigns on behalf of their murdered relatives and friends whose killing remains without justice following the well-known miscarriage of justice and police failures that wrongly convicted innocent men and let the true killers go free.
After the convoy of remembrance event a decision was taken by West Midlands Police (WMP) to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) to Julie Hambleton, who lost her sister Maxine in the pub bombings, and a number of other supporters. The FPN was issued as the WMP argue that her actions violated Coronavirus Regulations. She has rejected this, and the WMP has brought a prosecution.
Those involved are staggered by this decision. The evidence of the police confirms for example:
- The event planned was a vehicle convoy, to enable a commemoration to which the police had not objected.
- The event planning engaged extensively with the police. The police suggested at the end of the convoy outside the police HQ that a limited symbolic demonstration may be appropriate, given the restrictions in place.
- Ms Hambleton assisted the police to disperse a small group who had gathered on foot outside a mural in tribute to the murdered 21 at Bromsgrove Street. The police say they could not themselves have asked for dispersal, and it occurred only after the accused arrived and encouraged everyone to leave.
- Outside police HQ, at the end of the convoy route, the police had been told and were aware that Julie Hambleton might speak to the media. Again, where some people had gathered the police took no action – did not engage, explain or encourage the persons present to leave. Instead, they watched, whilst Ms Hambleton and others gave a short address to the crowd and encouraged them to leave. The police allege indeed she spoke for no more than 85 seconds and understandably thanked those who continue to support the cause for justice so that they could all disperse without further delay. The police again had felt, they say, unable to even ask the persons gathered to leave themselves and relied entirely on the conduct of the accused.
The police actions in bringing this prosecution raise serious questions over WMP taking inconsistent approaches to protests or even to those helping end and disperse a gathering, and the understanding and application of the regulations.
Today Julie Hambleton will appear before magistrates in Birmingham and plead not guilty to the offence of not paying the FPN. KRW has instructed barrister Phillip Rule of No 5 Chambers to represent her and two supporters.
The hearing will be to hear the pleas of the accused, who protest their innocence, and to set down dates for a full trial at which point Julie Hambleton will argue her defence and challenge the decision of the WMP to prosecute her.