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Tuesday, February 9, 1999 Published at 07:01 GMT


Birmingham six lawyer hands back CBE

Gareth Peirce defended the six men wrongly imprisoned for an IRA bombing in Birmingham

The solicitor who helped free the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four has asked the government to withdraw the CBE award given to her.

Gareth Peirce, a leading criminal lawyer who has represented clients in some of the most prominent cases of miscarriages of justice, was given the award in the New Year's Honours List.

According to The Times newspaper, she wrote "within days" to 10 Downing Street asking for the CBE, awarded for "services to justice" to be withdrawn.

Ms Peirce told the newspaper: "I am not trying to make a public statement about this.

"It was not my intention to accept it and, through undoubtedly my own error, it was included in the list.

"I wrote privately to ask if it could be withdrawn. I would apologise for any difficulty that this might have caused."

Accepting the award

Those offered honours are contacted by letter telling them of the award in advance. The award is only given is they agree to accept it.

A Downing Street spokesman said on Monday night that Ms Peirce had written to them asking for the award to be withdrawn and said the case was "extremely unusual".

"She was offered the award, she accepted the award and on that basis her name was published.

"Clearly she has had second thoughts and has written to us to say so.

"We have written back explaining to her she does not have to use the initials after her name or accept the honour at investiture."

He added: "We do not see this as a snub to the system. It is a matter entirely for the individual concerned."

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