Police arrest man, 65, over the murders of 21 people in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings

A 65-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the murders of 21 people in the 1974 pub bombings in Birmingham.

Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing West Midlands, working with colleagues from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, arrested the suspect in Belfast today.

The man was arrested under the Terrorism Act and a search of his home is being carried out.

He will be interviewed under caution at a police station in Northern Ireland.

Firemen at work following the bomb attacks in Birmingham city centre that targeted the Mulberry Bush pub and the Tavern in the Town

Firemen at work following the bomb attacks in Birmingham city centre that targeted the Mulberry Bush pub and the Tavern in the Town

Firemen at work following the bomb attacks in Birmingham city centre that targeted the Mulberry Bush pub and the Tavern in the Town

Maxine Hambleton was one of 11 people killed in the Tavern in the Town pub

Maxine Hambleton was one of 11 people killed in the Tavern in the Town pub

Maxine Hambleton was one of 11 people killed in the Tavern in the Town pub

Maxine Hambleton was one of 11 people killed in the Tavern in the Town pub

Maxine Hambleton was one of 11 people killed in the Tavern in the Town pub

In 1975, six men – the Birmingham Six – were convicted over the blasts but acquitted 16 years later. The attacks remain Britain’s largest unsolved terror crime.

West Midlands Police said the suspect was held by counter-terror officers in Belfast.

The force said in a statement: ‘A man has been arrested in connection with inquiries into the murders of 21 people in the 1974 pub bombings in Birmingham.

‘Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing West Midlands CTU, working with colleagues from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, arrested a 65-year-old man at his home in Belfast today.

‘The man was arrested under the Terrorism Act and a search of his home is being carried out.

‘He will be interviewed under caution at a police station in Northern Ireland.’ 

An IRA atrocity and 44 years of heartbreak for victims’ families

Thursday, November 21, 1974: Bombings in two Birmingham pubs leave 21 dead and 220 injured. They are said to be revenge for the death of IRA member James McDade, who blew himself up trying to plant explosives in Coventry. Hours later, five men are arrested in Heysham, Lancashire, and a sixth is arrested in Birmingham.

November 24: Patrick Hill, Hugh Callaghan, John Walker, Richard McIlkenny, Gerard Hunter and Billy Power are charged with murder.

June/August 1975: Trial at Lancaster Crown Court. ‘The Six’ are sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Birmingham Six outside the Old Bailey in London, after their convictions were quashed. Left-right: John Walker, Paddy Hill. Hugh Callaghan, Chris Mullen MP, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter and William Power.

The Birmingham Six outside the Old Bailey in London, after their convictions were quashed. Left-right: John Walker, Paddy Hill. Hugh Callaghan, Chris Mullen MP, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter and William Power.

The Birmingham Six outside the Old Bailey in London, after their convictions were quashed. Left-right: John Walker, Paddy Hill. Hugh Callaghan, Chris Mullen MP, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter and William Power.

October 1985: TV’s World In Action questions forensic tests. A book is then published claiming three unnamed men were behind the bombings.

January 1987: The home secretary refers case to the Court of Appeal. The appeal is later dismissed. A 1990 TV drama then names four ‘real’ bombers.

March 14, 1991: The Six are freed by the Court of Appeal after 16 years in prison.

October 1993: Perjury case against three former West Midlands police involved in the charging of the Birmingham Six is dismissed.

June 1, 2016: Senior coroner for Birmingham rules to resume the inquests. The original hearings were not continued after jailing of The Six.

September 29, 2018:  Families lose their legal battle to name those responsible for the bombings in the inquests  

February 25, 2019: The inquest into the 21 deaths opens in Birmingham.

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