Guildford pub bombs: Call for public inquiry as questions remain

Pub wreckage
The Guildford pub bombings killed five people, injured 65 and saw 11 wrongly convicted [Getty Images]

The family of a soldier killed in the 1974 Guildford pub bombs have said police are not answering questions and they will seek a public inquiry.

Last month, it emerged police had a new forensic lead but would not investigate because of a law that came in on 1 May.

Relatives of victim Pte Ann Hamilton said they and their lawyers had not had any response to concerns on how police dealt with the lead before 1 May.

Surrey Police said they had personally visited the family in March.

Four soldiers and a civilian died and 65 were injured in the attacks.

The Guildford Four were wrongly convicted in what became one of Britain's biggest miscarriages of justice - they served 15 years in jail.

In 1976, the IRA admitted the attacks, but after the Guildford Four were released in 1989, no-one else was prosecuted.

Clockwise from top left: Plasterer Paul Craig, 21, and soldiers Caroline Slater, 18, John Hunter, 17, William Forsyth, 18, Ann Hamilton, 19
(Clockwise from top left) Paul Craig, 21, Caroline Slater, 18, John Hunter, 17, William Forsyth, 18, and Ann Hamilton, 19, died in an explosion at the Horse and Groom [BBC]

Family questions

In a statement, the Hamilton family said: "Despite the 1 May imposition, we still have same questions and concerns regarding the 'new' forensic evidence and the operational decisions taken by Surrey Police since the resumed inquest in 2020."

The family said they did not know whether a new commission established by the Legacy Act would review the case, or whether Surrey Police had notified the Northern Ireland Secretary of its work on the case, as required by the legislation.

They have criticised the original Surrey Police investigation in 1974, along with a recent inquest because it was "limited in its scope". The family have made repeated calls for a new criminal investigation into the bombings.

The inquest, which concluded in 2022, did not look at perpetrators or the wider IRA campaign.

The family said it was time for Surrey Police to be "held to account by way of an independent and human rights compliant" public inquiry, which they would seek from the government.

(L-R) Gerry Conlon (1991), Patrick Armstrong (1991), Paul Hill (1989), Carole Richardson (1989)
Wrongly convicted Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong, Paul Hill and Carole Richardson served 15 years in jail [PA]

A Surrey Police spokeswoman said officers visited the family in March to discuss the outcome of a post-inquest assessment and provided details of the new Legacy Act commission, the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery.

She said the family's lawyers, KRW Law, submitted a series of questions to Surrey Police on 23 March, but added: "Despite repeated requests, KRW Law took five weeks to provide a form of authority from the Hamilton family. Until they did so, it could not be confirmed they were acting on behalf of their client.

"Surrey Police's legal team are now in direct contact with KRW Law and a response is being prepared."

She said a public inquiry by Sir John May reported on 30 June 1994.

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