Court of Appeal has allowed the Coroner’s appeal in Birmingham Pub Bombings Inquests
The Court of Appeal has allowed the Coroner’s appeal and refused the Respondents’ application for permission to cross appeal in relation to the decision of the Divisional Court in R (Hambleton) v The Coroner for the Birmingham Inquests. Jeremy Johnson QC and Robert Cohen appeared for the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police in the Court of Appeal.
The Coroner had ruled that the investigation into the identity of the suspected perpetrators (the so-called “perpetrator issue”) would not fall within the scope of the inquest. That decision was quashed by the Divisional Court. They held that the Coroner had not asked himself the correct question. The bereaved families had also argued that the police investigations to date did not satisfy the procedural duty arising under Article 2 ECHR because they had not been suitably effective or independent (‘the Article 2 issue’), but this argument was rejected by the High Court.
The Coroner appealed against the decision to quash his ruling and the respondents applied for permission to cross appeal in relation to the Court’s conclusion on the Article 2 issue. The Chief Constable made submissions in the Court of Appeal in opposition to the proposed cross appeal.
The Lord Chief Justice held that the Coroner’s original decision had been correct and ruled that the perpetrator issue was not a central question for the inquest. The Court also refused the application for permission to cross appeal noting that the fact that extensive criminal investigations had not delivered convictions for the bombings did not begin to establish that proper investigations had not been carried out.
The judgment can be viewed here
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