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A fresh inquest is to be opened into the Birmingham pub bombings more than 40 years after 21 people were killed in the deadliest IRA attack on the UK mainland during the Northern Ireland conflict.

Louise Hunt, the Birmingham coroner, told a court in Solihull “there is a wealth of evidence that still has not been heard – I have decided the inquest should resume”, writes John Murray Brown.

She suggested the authorities may have had advanced warnings of the bombings but failed to act on the information, which Ms Hunt described as a “missed opportunity”.

West Midlands Police had argued the coroner did not have the jurisdiction to hear the inquests but she told the hearing she rejected that submission.

The 1974 bombings, which ripped through the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs in central Birmingham, leaving 21 dead and 181 injured, came at the height of the IRA campaign.

Those responsible have never faced justice and the only men to be tried for the crime – the Birmingham Six – had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal in 1991, after a botched investigation by West Midlands Police in what was one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British legal history.

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