Justice for the 21 is a self-starting campaign group who seek truth, justice and accountability on behalf those killed in The Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974 – our loved ones.


Today we met the current Home Secretary in Birmingham.

This is the third Home Secretary we have met since 1974.

This is the second meeting we have had with her.

At the first – a virtual meeting – we told her our stories of loss and betrayal.

The meeting today, organised by the Mayor of West Midlands Combined Authority Andy Street, was face-to-face.

We have NO expectations of British politicians or their civil servants.

Our expectations were met.



After many failed, flawed – and corrupt – police investigations we have no trust in the West Midlands Police (WMP) to conduct any inquiry with efficiency or integrity.


After a failed and flawed inquest which was constrained by what a Coroner decided he could investigate and restricted by a lack of disclosure and candour our ASK of the British government was a public inquiry.


We made our ASK clear: a judge lead public inquiry with our effective participation, with our ability to contribute to framing the Terms of Reference, with our ability to input into the structure of the investigation and with guarantees from the government of full disclosure and no interference by any state agency.


Today the Home Secretary made it clear that she would not at this time establish a public inquiry. If not not now, then when?


She had not come here today to talk about a public inquiry – so what had she come to talk about and why had she, and her civil servants, has read this meeting so wrong?


“I cannot make you feel better” – we do not want to feel better, we want truth, justice and accountability. And, Mr Mayor, we do not want CLOSURE.


There would be no public inquiry because:


  • there is an on-going ‘live’ investigation being undertaken by WMP and that what she had been told by WMP contradicted what J4the21 were saying ‘six of one …’  (Although she later admitted transparency by the WMP had been ‘completely fudged’)
  • because she was not fully briefed – across the facts and the evidence – and therefore could not make an informed decision to go to the House of Commons and establish a public inquiry:
  • because there was ‘a lot of process’ and she would ask her civil servants to ‘take you through’ the process. When?


The Home Secretary made a distinction between the Manchester Arena Bombing 2017 and the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974 on the basis of ‘history’ : an indication that an atrocity from 2017 is easier to investigate than an atrocity from 1974 therefore establishing a hierarchy of victims – some lives matter more than others.


We point this out without any disrespect to the relatives of victims of the Manchester Arena Bombing.


In response to Home Secretary, J4the21 explained, again, the failings, then and now, of WMP. What is the status of their ‘live’ investigation?


In response, J4the21 explained, again, the failings of the inquest in terms of its scope, the extent of disclosure (material held by government departments including the Home Office).


In response, J4the21 made the ask, again, for a public inquiry and that Home Secretary was not being tasked to undertake an investigation into the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974 herself or by the Home Office but rather to establish a public inquiry that could undertake that such an investigation because there was continuing public concern, as the statute says.


In response, J4the21 questioned why she could not take that decision – and what more did she need? As Home Secretary she heads the Home Office (she admitted she had difficulty getting information out of her own department) – her office which has a corporate and institutional memory, despite her protestations to the contrary, and has the evidence and the information she apparently needs to make that decision, including the Security Service.


Our expectations of the Home Secretary and the Home Office were met.


Why is this government so opposed to this ask?


We pointed out the comment attributed to former Prime Minister David Cameron made to the widow of Patrick Finucane, a solicitor assassinated in 1989, that he was not able to to give her a public inquiry because those in power in Whitehall would prevent him – civil servants and spooks not temporal politicians?


Was she in this position? Is she uncomfortable or are her civil servants?


She offered to explain the process, engage with our legal team to work ‘on the legals’. We do not hold our breath.


What do they not want us to know?


We continue, as will our children, with all our breath for those we lost who no longer breathe.


Julie Hambleton

Justice for the 21