On 21 November 1974 our beloved sister, Maxine, who was aged just 18, went out to meet some friends to hand out some party invitations at a local pub in Birmingham. 15 minutes after entering the pub she had been blown up by an IRA bomb that had been planted inside. That night, 21 innocent people were murdered, leaving 182 survivors with life changing injuries.
My brother, Brian, offered to take her to the city that evening. Brian was the last person in our family to see our sister alive. He has been riddled with guilt ever since believing that he delivered Maxine to her death.
Maxine was a vibrant, intelligent, kind and generous young lady… the epitome of a big sister.
She had just returned from France grape picking in the Champagne vineyards to improve her French for her ‘A’ levels. After she was killed she received a letter of acceptance to study Law at University. The irony is that she has been so severely let down by the very institution she so much wanted to represent.
The horror of her death lives with us every waking hour. The fact that the authorities appear to have an aspersion to investigate and find the perpetrators makes our suffering and grief greater. The inaction of West Midlands Police and the Government, is as iniquitous as the crime itself.
In 2011 I set up an e-petition which quickly grew into what has now become known as the, Justice4the21 campaign (Mike Watts, established this name), where a group of fantastic extraordinary people from Birmingham and all over the UK have come together to support us and put pressure on the UK Government and West Midlands Police to do what they should have done decades ago… to investigate and seek out the perpetrators of this heinous crime.
From Justice4the21 campaign’s inception, our supporters, and family have been writing to their MPs and senior politicians in both the House of Commons and Lords as well as senior officers at West Midlands Police.
The majority of the responses have been homogeneous. A few appeared to be very supportive, only for them to not follow through with what they initially proposed.
Last year I wrote to five Lords. Only one responded, stating that my request for him to assist us was out of his remit but he would make enquiries on our behalf. Within a fortnight I heard again from him, informing me that due to the lapse in time, there was nothing that he could do to assist us.
I responded immediately, informing him that time is not the issue where mass murder is concerned, as there is no statute of limitations on murder in the UK (thank goodness).
The only issue is that those who are in a position of power, who have the resources and facilities to do something to bring about justice, choose to do nothing. This, to all our supporters, the survivors and the families of the murdered is tantamount to moral and ethical turpitude.
But at least this Lord replied, albeit unsatisfactorily from our point of view.
I wrote to the Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper four times last year over a period of six months, to her constituency office and to the Houses of Parliament (all recorded delivery). I am still awaiting a response.
I also wrote to Ed Miliband. A reply came from his office, which indicates that he did not read my letter, but his ‘office’ saw fit to dismiss my correspondence. They did this so by informing me that they were forwarding on my concerns to, guess who…. yes, Yvette Cooper.
This, despite me highlighting in my letter the utter lack of courtesy demonstrated by her.
This is just one example of how we have been continually ignored and treated as an inconvenience. To think, these people want to get into Government to run our country and want us to vote for them!
Another prime example is from the interview I gave on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show nearly three weeksago. When pressed by Peter Burns for an answer on why high ranking members of their parties had not responded to our correspondence, both the Justice Minister Jeremy Wright and John Spellar MP both clearly stated they would “certainly look into that.”
Guess what? To date we are still waiting.
Both these politicians changed the subject to refer instead to the release of the Birmingham Six, dismissing the fact that here remains one of the biggest injustices in England yet to be solved.
If anyone would like to write to these gentlemen to remind them of their ‘words’ asking when we may get some kind of reply and/or recognition, it would be most appreciated.
The most important point Peter Burns raised was when he asked Mr Wright: “Another big problem is that the case is covered by one of those Public Interest Immunity Certificates, which is like a guarantee of silence in effect for 75 years…. when you have such secrecy like that it is bound to embolden those who have alleged conspiracy theories. Surely we need a bright light on the inquiry as Julie said? “
Mr Wright replied: “Well there are huge challenges when dealing with security information and I agree with John (Spellar MP) that shouldn’t prevent West Midlands Police looking again if they believe they have new evidence or even if they have evidence that wasn’t properly scrutinised in the first place, it doesn’t prevent them doing that and that’s what they should do if such evidence comes to light.”
What Mr Wright failed to highlight, is that the Public Interest Immunity Certificate holds all the answers to our questions and holds all the relevant names and data on the truth.
Our question is this. Why is this file being kept closed for so long, if the police and the Government have nothing to hide?
Would it not be financially and judicially more prudent to make these files available to all concerned parties as a way expediting justice that will lead to the truth Or is this too simple?
Or do these files have the potential to open up a Pandora’s box that could put certain individuals and organisations in a light that they would prefer not to be switched on?
Where does that leave the relatives of the 21 innocents who were so brutally murdered? What about the 182 who survived and have to live with these horrific memories day in day out?
The benchmark of any civilized society can be measured in a number of ways, one of those being, by the quality of its justice system.
Bearing this in mind, if our Government and West Midlands Police are not prepared to investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators what does this say about how politicians and police force, view ‘ordinary folk’ who are murdered en masse?
Their silence and inaction is insulting. To be treated with such irreverence by the very people who should be protecting us and looking for the perpetrators is reprehensible.
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