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Birmingham Six man calls for inquiry into 'IRA mole'

 Hugh Callaghan of the Birmingham Six, outside the Old bailey in London in 1991 after his convictions and those of John Walker, Paddy Hill, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter and William Power, were quashed
Seamus McKinney

ONE of the Birmingham Six has called for a full investigation into claims that West Midlands Police may have been tipped off in advance of the 1974 pub bombings by an IRA mole but failed to act.

Hugh Callaghan (84) urged the British government to reveal what it knows about the atrocity which led to one of the UK's worst ever miscarriages of justice.

Mr Callaghan and five other Irishmen were freed in 1991 after being wrongly convicted and spending 16 years in prison. Twenty-one people were killed when the IRA exploded two bombs at two pubs in central Birmingham 40 years ago.

West Midlands Police's chief constable has been ordered to produce any information surrounding a claim the force may have been tipped off in advance of the Birmingham pub bombings by an IRA "mole".

It was claimed yesterday by a lawyer for some of the victims' families that an IRA informant may have told police about the pub bombs before they exploded but failed to act to protect "an IRA mole".

Birmingham and Solihull coroner Louise Hunt is hearing an application to resume inquests into 21 deaths.

The original inquest was stalled in 1975 because of the criminal investigation which would result in the wrongful convictions.

The families argue the inquests should now be resumed.

The coroner has ordered police to produce any information on claims the force may have been tipped off in advance.

She set a provisional date of 6 April when she will deliver her decision about whether the inquests can resume.

One of the Birmingham Six, Paddy Hill, was at the coroners court to hear proceedings. Later he said justice needed to be served.

Mr Callaghan, who still lives in England, said he was shocked to hear the claims made at the hearing and said it warranted a full independent investigation or "public inquiry".

He said he was angered to think that the six were beaten into making confessions when police knew the IRA planned the bombs.

"To think I still have nightmares about what happened; about the beatings. It was a terrible ordeal for me and for us and for our families. I am very angry.

"The beatings were terrible. I remember at one time I said to Gerry Hunter 'I think they are going to kill us' and he said 'I think you might be right'," he recalled.

"People don't realise the whole world was against us, even the other prisoners. It was deadly and now to think they may have known all along that we were innocent."

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