It’s a victory – but editor says the real battle is still to come

The Birmingham Mail’s battle to help obtain legal funding for the families of victims of the city’s 1974 pub bombings has achieved a major breakthrough.

The newspaper had urged Prime Minister Theresa May to intervene and help relatives of the victims get the help they needed after a funding row over inquests into their loved ones’ deaths.

Legislation placed in Parliament on Thursday, 26 January by Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald will effectively remove the technicality that prevented the families’ Northern Ireland-based lawyers receiving legal aid in England. 

The Mail (www.birminghammail.co.uk) understands the change in legislation is effective immediately, and allows lawyers KRW to apply for funding in time for the re-opening of the inquests on 23 February.

The families have been battling for more than 40 years, with the Mail’s help, to try to find the truth behind what happened when IRA bombers killed 21 people in Birmingham.

The Mail splashed on the latest development on Friday, 27 January after breaking the news on its website the previous day.

“If, as it seems, this does enable the families to get the legal funding they need then it is good news indeed,” said Mail editor Marc Reeves.

“However, it’s a victory in a battle they shouldn’t have been forced to fight in the first place. The stress of their four-decade campaign for justice is hard enough without having to grovel to the government for the right to be represented at the inquest. 

“The Birmingham Mail has been with the families every step of the way, and we’ll support them to the end.”

Interviewed on BBC Midlands Today, families’ spokesperson Julie Hambleton, praised the Mail, together with the BBC and ITV, for their campaigning and support.