HC Deb 22 February 1990 vol 167 cc1057-8
8. Mr. Meale

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has completed his consideration of the new evidence in the case of the Birmingham pub bombings.

Mr. Waddington

I have not yet completed my consideration of the further material which has been presented to me by a solicitor acting on behalf of the six men convicted of the Birmingham public house bombings. I will decide as soon as possible whether it justifies any intervention on my part.

Mr. Meale

As the Home Secretary is aware, some of the confessions that formed the major part of the case for the conviction of the Birmingham pub bombers were taken by the West Midlands serious crime squad. That group has since been disbanded because it was found to have been forging confessions. Is not that enough to warrant reopening an inquiry into the case?

Mr. Waddington

As I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, it is my job to consider whether there is any new evidence or consideration of substance that may cast doubt on the safety of the convictions, and I shall carry out that duty. As the hon. Gentleman knows, an inquiry into the West Midlands serious crime squad is being carried out by the West Yorkshire police. Although their inquiry is concentrated on matters which have occurred since 1986, if they wish to take their inquiries further back in time because of matters that come to their notice, I am absolutely sure that they will do so.

Mr. John Marshall

Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that many people are rather tired of the concerted campaign to prove that those convicted criminals are innocent and to make people forget the nature of the crime that they committed?

Mr. Waddington

I hear what my hon. Friend says. I do not think that it is right for me to comment because I have a difficult duty to carry out. My hon. Friend will realise that I will carry it out.

Mr. Clay

Does not the length of time that the Guildford Four wrongly spent in prison haunt the Home Secretary as he continues to dither around finding one excuse after another for prevarication while evidence showing that the Birmingham Six were innocent builds up? How many more months, if not years, will they have to spend in gaol, wrongly, like the Guildford Four?

Mr. Waddington

The hon. Gentleman's remarks were entirely uncalled for. He ignored entirely that Devon and Cornwall police have already carried out a detailed investigation into the matter; he ignored entirely that as a result of that investigation the case was taken to the Court of Appeal; and he ignored entirely that the Court of Appeal carried out the most exhaustive inquiry into the confessions made by the Six and into the forensic evidence.