HOME secretary Douglas Hurd has given his assurance to Alliance Northern Ireland spokesman David Alton that the defence in the Birmingham six case will have access to all papers being used by the prosecution. On January 20 Mr Hurd told the House of Commons that the was referring the case to the Court of Appeal because of doubts about forensic evidence and police brutality in the conviction of six Irishmen for the bombing of a Birmingham pub in 1974. (Catholic Herald, January 23)
If the Court of Appeal decide to order a retr;a1, an option Mr Alton is keen that they should adopt, then he is anxious that the defence counsel should be as fully briefed as possible on all evidence.
Mr Alton has welcomed Mr Hurd's assurance. "If the defendants are to have a fair hearing", the Catholic MP commented, "it is vital that they have as much information as possible available to them".
Cardinal Basil Hume has expressed his disappointment that at the same time as ordering a review of the Birmingham case, the Home Secretary did not also take similar steps over the convictions of the Maguire family and the Guildford Four, jailed for their part in IRA bombings. "I believe both these cases must be considered by thd, Home Secretary in the interest of British justice", the cardinal said.