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Error of Judgement The Birmingham Bombings and the Scandal That Shook Britain

"A unique book that lit a fire under the UK legal establishment when first published. Shattered the prosecution case against six Irishmen wrongly charged with the Birmingham Bombings and went on to change the course of British legal history."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

On 21st November 1974, bombs went off in the Mulberry Bush and The Tavern in the Town, two pubs in the centre of Birmingham, killing 21 people and injuring 182. The attacks were the worst of many atrocities in England during a sustained campaign by the IRA.

If you are under fifty, you may well be unfamiliar with the tale of six men from Birmingham and how their wrongful conviction for these bombings would eventually send shudders through the UK legal establishment. You may recall seeing television footage in 1991 of a group of men walking from the Old Bailey in London. You may also have noticed one man, Chris Mullin, being invited to join those men as they stood to be photographed by the attendant press and media.

You might, thanks to misinformation, even harbour some vague suspicion these men were perhaps ‘a little bit guilty’ and had been released as a result of one of those technicalities our criminal justice system is so renowned for. You would be very, very wrong.

To the UK criminal justice system, journalist Chris Mullin was the grit in the oyster, an irritant who would eventually become a pearl. In 1987, when Granada TV’s World in Action transmitted a story he had been researching for several years, serious doubt was cast on the convictions. Witnesses spoke of the men as having been ‘fitted up’ by the police and the subject of flawed forensic evidence. Four more years would pass before the court system found in their favour and they were released.

Error of Judgement is, perhaps, unique in what it achieved as a book. Not only were the Birmingham Six freed as a result of Mullin’s investigation, his work led to a Royal Commission on Criminal Justice and the formation of the Criminal Cases Review Commission. Hundreds of wrongly convicted and excessively sentenced people were freed as a result.

This book changed the course of history and, in doing so, achieved justice and put a great many wrongs, right. It’s a lesson to all of us and a story we should all know.

Matt Johnson

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