Ex-Sunderland MP branded 'disgrace to the human race' for refusing to name Birmingham bombings murder suspects

Former Sunderland South MP Chris Mullin during a return visit to the city in 2017.
Former Sunderland South MP Chris Mullin during a return visit to the city in 2017.
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An ex-Sunderland MP who has refused to name living suspects accused of involvement in the Birmingham pub bombings faced anger from bereaved relatives campaigning for justice for their loved ones.

Former Sunderland South MP Chris Mullin was branded a "disgrace to the human race" as he was confronted outside the fresh inquests into the IRA bombings - and was told he had "done nothing" for the 21 people killed in November 1974.

The Mulberry Bush pub, in Birmingham, after the 1974 blast.

The Mulberry Bush pub, in Birmingham, after the 1974 blast.

The 71-year-old - whose research into the atrocities helped free six wrongly-convicted men - was shielded by security guards as he left the inquests on March 27.

Amid scenes which could not be reported until Friday's conclusion of the inquests due to potential prejudice to the jury, the former Labour MP for Sunderland South appeared shaken by shouts of "scum" and "disgrace".

Video footage of the incident shows a security guard losing his footing as he tries to usher Mr Mullin away.

Justice campaigners Julie, Jayne and Brian Hambleton - whose teenage sister Maxine died in the blasts on November 21 1974 - were among those who demanded answers from Mr Mullin, who was wheeling a suitcase.

After filming Mr Mullin on her mobile phone, Julie Hambleton asked him: "How do you sleep at night? You did all that for the Birmingham Six and you've done nothing for 21 victims who were slaughtered in cold blood."

Mr Mullin, who appeared to make no comment to the relatives, told the inquests he had interviewed around 17 people involved in planting dozens of IRA devices in the West Midlands prior to the pub bombings.

During his testimony, Mr Mullin, a Labour MP in Sunderland from 1987-2010, was asked to comment on a 1990 book he wrote about the wrongful conviction of the Birmingham Six, entitled Error Of Judgement.

Barrister Leslie Thomas, representing nine of the bereaved families, asked whether he was right in thinking that Mr Mullin had reached an agreement with the IRA and those who carried out the bombings that he would not reveal their identities while they were alive.

Mr Mullin answered: "That's right, yes. I should say that I interviewed about 16 or 17 of the people who had been planting bombs in and around Birmingham.

"And many of those were in prison at the time, and that did not require any liaison with Sinn Fein or the IRA.

"My primary interest was in rescuing these six other innocent victims of the pub bombings. I was never under the illusion at any stage that I could bring the perpetrators to justice.

"The only way to establish beyond doubt that the six people in jail were not responsible was to find out who was responsible and to persuade them to describe in sufficient detail what they had done so that it would not be possible for anyone to carry on pretending, as some were at the time, that the right people were in jail."

Suggesting that the identity of the pub bombers was now "becoming public knowledge" in any case, Mr Mullin added: "I was never under the illusion that I could bring the perpetrators to justice.

"That was a job for the police, had they been interested.

"I would say that I volunteered an understanding that I was not interested in naming the names but what I wanted was to hear from the people who I believed did actually carry out the bombings."

Mr Mullin conceded that he had steadfastly refused to name those responsible for the bombings, including the so-called "young planter" who helped another man carry the devices into Birmingham.

Asked if the "young planter" had been masked when he interviewed him in Ireland, Mr Mullin said: "No. He had about 15 minutes' notice of my appearance on his doorstep."

The 11-member panel, which sat for almost six weeks and deliberated for almost five hours, unanimously concluded on Friday that an inadequate warning call by the Provisional IRA, which carried out the attacks, cost the stretched police vital minutes.

The six female and five male jurors also determined the victims were unlawfully killed.