Ex-Sunderland MP who helped free 'Birmingham Six' wrongly convicted of IRA pub bombing in court battle over research
Anti-terror powers could be used to force an ex-MP to reveal his research into a botched investigation which saw six men wrongly jailed over an IRA bombing.
Chris Mullin, who represented the Sunderland South constituency until 2010 and now lives in Northumberland, was a key figure in the campaign to free the ‘Birmingham Six’.
The group received life sentences for plotting attacks on two pubs in the city in the 1970s.
But they were released in 1991 and their convictions quashed following the findings of a probe by Mullins and others, including a book and series of documentaries.
West Midlands Police (WMP) later launched Operation Castors as part of efforts to find the real culprits behind the atrocity, which killed 21 and injured more than 200.
And later this month the force is due to go before the high court under the terms of the Terrorism Act to demand Mullins hand over notebooks and other material related to his own independent investigations.
The former MP and minister said: “If West Midlands Police had carried out a proper investigation after the bombings, instead of framing the first half-dozen people unlucky enough to fall into their hands, they might have caught the real perpetrators in the first place.
“It is beyond irony - they appear to have gone for the guy who blew the whistle.”
Following the release of the Birmingham Six, a further 30 further convictions based on WMP investigations were quashed.
Mullin, who has also written several novels and is now a member of the Northumberland National Park Authority, has refused to disclose additional material, claiming it would breach the “principle that journalists are entitled to protect their sources”.
He has been backed by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), which claimed the court battle risked “undermining press freedom”.
In a statement, a spokesman for WMP said: “West Midlands Police remains committed to bringing to justice those responsible for the 1974 Birmingham Pub bombings atrocity and continues to pursue all active lines of enquiry.
“We can confirm that we have commenced proceedings for a production order application against Mr Christopher Mullin in respect of documents he may possess which could assist in this investigation.
“It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”