Guildford IRA bomb family demands answers

Guildford IRA bomb wreckage

EVERYWHERE it seems, we read of IRA crimes and government and police stupidity being covered up and every obstacle that the ‘powers that be’ can muster are placed in the path of justice for the victims!

As in days gone by so it is today:

“‭And judgment‭ is turned away‭‭ backward‭, and justice‭ standeth‭‭ afar off‭: for truth‭ is fallen‭‭ in the street‭, and equity‭ cannot‭‭ enter‭‭.,” Isaiah 59:14.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

We would despair were we not sustained by the promise of God:

“‭Behold, the days‭ come‭‭, saith‭‭ the LORD‭, that I will raise‭‭ unto David‭ a righteous‭ Branch‭, and a King‭ shall reign‭‭ and prosper‭‭, and shall execute‭‭ judgment‭ and justice‭ in the earth‭.,” Jeremiah 23:5.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Pity this lady and her friends who seek justice in the case of the murder of their loved ones by the IRA and the cover up that is in place!

Most sincerely in the Saviour’s name,

Ivan Foster

Guildford IRA bomb family demands answers from inquest

By Tanya Gupta/BBC News

The bombs killed five people, injured 65 and led to one of Britain’s biggest miscarriages of justice

A woman fighting for justice after her sister died in the Guildford pub bombs exactly 47 years ago has asked the coroner to widen his investigation.

Cassandra Hamilton’s sister Ann was one of four soldiers who died alongside a civilian in the IRA attacks in 1974.

Ms Hamilton sent questions to Surrey coroner Richard Travers when it emerged a key hearing would go ahead without her lawyers due to a lack of legal aid.

A spokesman for the coroner Mr Travers said he was unable to comment.

Ms Hamilton has written to the coroner asking him to look at questions including alleged timing discrepancies, why the wrong people were jailed, and why her sister’s barracks had not been on lockdown following another reported attack.

In his provisional scope set out in 2019 after the inquest resumed, Mr Travers said the inquest would look at who died and how, when and where they died, but it would not look at who carried out the attacks, the conduct of the original police investigation or prosecution, or the wider IRA bombing campaign.

A pre-inquest review is due to be held on Friday.

(L-R) Caroline Slater, 18, Ann Hamilton, 19, William Forsyth, 18, John Hunter, 17, and plasterer Paul Craig, 21,  died in the first explosion at the Horse and Groom

Ms Hamilton said she wanted Mr Travers to know how her parents moved from Belfast to Crewe to escape the Northern Ireland conflict only to lose her sister in the Guildford attacks, and then her father who died 18 months later.

“They killed my sister and they killed my dad,” she said. “He died of a broken heart.”

Ms Hamilton said Ann was not just a name and number – Private Ann Hamilton 454500 WRAC – but a loving person with a family that missed her, and a woman who liked football and was always up for a challenge.

She said: “My sister was a fun-loving, beautiful girl who came to a tragic end and it shouldn’t have happened.

“When mum used to talk about her, it always brought a smile to her face. Ann was that sort of person. She made people laugh.”

(L-R) Wrongly-convicted Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong, Paul Hill and Carole Richardson served 15 years in jail

In 1976, two IRA men, Brendan Dowd and Martin Joseph O’Connell, admitted bombing Guildford.

A year earlier, the Guildford Four had been wrongly-convicted in what became one of Britain’s biggest miscarriages of justice.

No-one else was prosecuted after they were released. Both Dowd and O’Connell were jailed in the 1970s for other offences and freed during the Northern Ireland peace process.

Ms Hamilton said she would confront the bombers herself if she could.

“I would talk to them. I would want to know why there? Why that night? Why that time? Did they know soldiers were in there having a party? Or was it just unlucky they were there that night?”

She said her family wanted to know why those who admitted the bombings were never charged, adding: “If I went out in the street and killed someone and admitted it, I would be held responsible.”

A Surrey Police spokeswoman said: “Surrey Police is conducting an assessment of all the material held to consider whether reinvestigation is a viable option. That assessment remains ongoing.”

She said the family’s questions were a matter for the coroner.

Timings ‘didn’t match’

Ms Hamilton questioned the commonly-accepted timings that the first bomb exploded at the Horse and Groom at 20:50 and the second at the Seven Stars at 21:30.

The father of journalist Rob King, Charles King, has said his son was nearby when the first bomb went off and reported it as 20:30.

Ms Hamilton asked: “Did it take police that long? They had to process that information. Why did the timings not match up? Was there a time lapse in their response?”

An inquiry by Sir John May did note the timing of the first bomb was referred to as 20:30 in court proceedings, but found that was inaccurate.

The family also want to know why Ann’s barracks were not on lockdown after other explosions at local army bases.

In March 1974, the Birmingham Post reported bombings at Ripon barracks in Yorkshire and listed explosions at England’s military establishments in the previous two years.

Incidents included an explosion at an Aldershot officers’ mess in 1972; a petrol bomb at an officers’ club in Aldershot in 1973; a bomb at Chelsea’s Duke of York Barracks in September 1973; a blast at Pirbright Army camp in September 1973; and an explosion at an Army recruiting office in Surbiton in October 1973.

‘Catch 22’ over legal aid

In her fight for legal aid, Ms Hamilton sought help from Congleton MP Fiona Bruce, who said she backed support for terror victims, but was unable to arrange a meeting the family requested with Solicitor General Alex Chalk QC.

Mr Chalk referred the BBC to Legal Aid Minister Tom Pursglove, who has been approached for comment. Ms Bruce said she did not comment on individual cases.

Since the family’s first application was refused, KRW Law has made a fresh call to the government followed by a further application to the Legal Aid Agency (LAA). The Belfast firm said it was still awaiting the outcome of both of these.

Christopher Stanley, from KRW Law, said the firm had acted pro bono while legal aid was sought, but added: “Because the coroner has yet to make a final ruling on scope we are still awaiting a decision on legal aid from the LAA. This means we cannot continue legal representation.

“This is the Catch-22: whilst KRW should be making submissions on scope and disclosure and as to why this inquest should be conducted as a human rights-compliant investigation, we cannot do so because we have no funds, which means that the LAA can refuse legal aid.”

A Ministry of Justice (MoJ) spokeswoman said: “We’re determined that grieving families receive the right support when they are most in need, including coroner services which are consistent and delivered to the highest standard.”

In May, the Justice select committee called for parity in the public funding of complex inquests.

The MoJ said it was considering the recommendations as part of its response to a Hillsborough review.