Philip Rule of No5 Barristers’ Chambers was instructed by KRW LAW LLP to represent relatives and supporters of those killed in The Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974.  As an act of remembrance, a motor rally through Birmingham on the anniversary of the attacks on the 21 November 2020 took place.  Following the event, a relative of one of the victims of the bombings and two of the event supporters are being prosecuted by West Midlands Police for allegedly violating Coronavirus Regulations.

The anniversary rally was planned as a replacement for the usual service due to Coronavirus Regulations and the traditional service and acts of remembrance were cancelled. The cancellation of these acts of remembering led to supporters of the Justice for the 21 (J421) Campaign Group contacting Julie Hambleton in large numbers to offer support and to organise a planned vehicle convoy in line with regulations and in place of traditional service activities.

The CPS is to be asked to review whether this case should proceed, and it has been observed that the police evidence confirms that:

  • The event planned was a vehicle convoy, to enable a commemoration to which the police had not objected.
  • The event planning engaged extensively with the police. The police suggested at the end of the convoy outside the police HQ that a limited symbolic demonstration may be appropriate, given the restrictions in place.
  • Ms Hambleton and others assisted the police to disperse a small group who had gathered on foot outside a mural in tribute to the murdered 21 at Bromsgrove Street.
  • Outside police HQ, at the end of the convoy route, the police had been told and were aware that Julie Hambleton might speak to the media. Where some people had gathered the police had taken no action at all – did not engage, explain or encourage the persons present to leave. Instead, they simply watched, whilst Ms Hambleton and others gave a short address to the crowd and themselves encouraged them to leave. The police allege she spoke for no more than 85 seconds.

Julie Hambleton and others appeared before Magistrates in Birmingham on 30 March 2021 and entered pleas of not guilty.

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Philip Rule is Head of the Public Law group at No5 and also an experienced criminal advocate.