Inquests for Guildford bombing victims to resume after 45 years
Inquests for the victims of the Guildford pub bombing should restart more than 40 years after they were suspended, a coroner has ruled.
Five people were killed on 5 October 1974 when two bombs were detonated by the IRA at two Guildford pubs. Four people, known as the “Guildford Four”, were convicted of involvement in the bombings in 1975, but their conviction was later quashed and they were released in 1989.
Richard Travers agreed an inquest was necessary after the families of the victims, as well as survivors and those wrongfully imprisoned, campaigned for the hearings to be completed, The Times reports.
The original inquest proceedings were suspended when Paul Hill, Paddy Armstrong, Gerry Conlon and Carole Richardson were convicted of the bombings in 1975 and were jailed for life.
Their convictions were overturned in 1989 at the Court of Appeal, with the case becoming one of the major miscarriages in English legal history.
The coroner said: “I take the view that the deceased, their families and the public are entitled to have these matters formally explored in open court and in proceedings which are untainted by allegations of impropriety or misconduct.
“Doing this will establish and record a credible and reliable account of what happened to the victims in a way that respects and honours their memory and I believe this would represent an important and worthwhile exercise.”
The original inquests were closed following the murder trial and convictions. Lt Col Murdoch McEwan, the then coroner, decided it was unnecessary to resume them.
Mr Travers said: “That was an end of the matter from the perspective of this office, but coroners have long had a discretion to resume inquests adjourned in the above circumstances if there is ‘sufficient reason’ for doing so.
“The original murder trial did not examine what happened immediately before or after the blast on October 5, 1974, in any great detail because the prosecution case was based entirely on confessions signed by the accused and because it was also directed towards a simultaneous time bomb attack on the Seven Starts public house, Swan Lane, Guildford [which did not kill or injure anyone], and a subsequent throw bomb attack on the former King’s Arms public house, Frances Street, Woolwich on November 7, 1974 [which killed two].
“Furthermore, and notoriously, the relevant convictions were quashed in 1989 after serious irregularities were discovered in the prosecution evidence.”