[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February 2005, 12:21 GMT
Innocents jailed over bombings
The 1974 bomb attacks in Guildford and Woolwich were among the most high-profile atrocities carried out by the IRA at the height of its bombing campaign in Britain.

A device at the Horse and Groom pub in Guildford killed five people, four soldiers and a civilian, and left more than 100 injured.

The Guildford Four were jailed for the 1974 bombing
The Guildford Four were jailed for the 1974 bombing

Four people, Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong, Paul Hill and Carole Richardson, were arrested in 1974 and jailed the following year for life for the bombings. They became known as the Guildford Four.

Paul Hill and Paddy Armstrong were also jailed for the Woolwich bombing in which two people died.

Later, Gerry Conlon's father, Giuseppe, and members of the Maguire family - they became known as the Maguire Seven - were arrested and jailed.

Anne Maguire, from Willesden, north London, and family, were convicted of possessing nitro-glycerine which was allegedly passed to the IRA to make bombs.

Sentenced to 14 years in prison, Mrs Maguire was carried from the dock protesting her innocence.

Her husband Patrick also got 14 years, her two youngest sons, aged 17 and 14, were put behind bars for five and four years respectively.

Her brother, William, brother-in-law Giuseppe Conlon and friend Patrick O'Neill got 12 years.

Six of the Maguire Seven were released from prison after serving their sentences.

A bomb at the Horse and Groom pub killed five people
A bomb at the Horse and Groom pub killed five people

The exception, Giuseppe Conlon, who had a history of chest problems, died in prison in January 1980 - still protesting his innocence.

In October 1989, the Court of Appeal quashed the sentences of the Guildford Four amid doubts raised about the police evidence against them.

An investigation into the case by Avon and Somerset Police found serious flaws in the way Surrey Police handled the case - considered to be the biggest miscarriage of justice in Britain.

Emerging from the Appeal Court a free man, Gerry Conlon declared: "I have been in prison for something I did not do. I am totally innocent.

"The Maguire Seven are innocent. Let's hope the Birmingham Six are freed."

It was to be another 20 months - in June 1991 - before Giuseppe Conlon had his sentence posthumously overturned by the Court of Appeal, which also overturned the sentences of the Maguires.

The Birmingham Six also had their convictions overturned on appeal in 1991.

In July 2000, Prime Minister Tony Blair became the first senior politician to apologise to the Guildford Four.

In a letter sent to Paul Hill's wife - one of the American Kennedy clan - he wrote: "There were miscarriages of justice in your husband's case, and the cases of those convicted with him. I am very sorry indeed that this should have happened."

The story of the Guildford Four was given international prominence by the Oscar-nominated film In the Name of the Father, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Gerry Conlon and Pete Postlethwaite as his father Guiseppe.






SEE ALSO

RELATED BBC LINKS



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific