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Tuesday, October 19, 1999 Published at 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Guildford Four members demand settlement

Paul Hill says his claim has not yet been settled

Two of the so-called Guildford Four say they are still waiting for justice ten years after being cleared of the 1974 English pub bombing which killed five people.

Gerry Conlon and Paul Hill, both from Northern Ireland say they have not received the final settlement of their claims for compensation.

BBC NI's Wendy Austin interviews Gerry Conlon and MP John McDonnell about the campaign for compensation
The Guildford Four were freed by the Court of Appeal along with Carole Richardson and Patrick Armstrong, after each serving 15 years in prison.

Gerry Conlon said that he had been compensated in part by the Home Office, but that the £500,000 final settlement they were proposing to offer him would amount to less than £90 for every day he spent in prison.

"What price do you put on someone who spent the best years of his life in prison, watched his family disintegrate and watched his father die in prison," he said.

'Dreadful experience'

"There are very few people walking around today who have gone through the dreadful experience that we went through: years of solitary confinement.

"We were sent into a prison which was totally hostile towards us, we were being attacked by prison officers and cons, people urinated in our food, people put glass in our food and then when we came out onto the street there was no care from the government.

[ image: Gerry Conlon: Apology more important than compensation]
Gerry Conlon: Apology more important than compensation
"We are all walking around badly scarred by this experience."

A Home Office spokesman said that Gerry Conlon's claim "has been settled apart from a tiny amount which relates to some travelling expenses".

The spokesman said they are waiting for Paul Hill's solicitor to file a final claim and that the amount could not be calculated until the submission was made.

Call for transparent system

However, Mr Conlon added that he and Mr Hill are calling for an official apology from the government as much as for compensation.

They also want the compensation process for victims of miscarriages of justice to be made public.

Gerry Conlon said: "There are still certain people in Ireland and England who judge me as being guilty.

"When we came out within a very short period of time the judiciary started a whispering campaign and the papers picked it up.

"I think they were trying to clear their own conscience about what they knew they had done wrong and that's why an apology is most important. And certainly an apology for the way my father died."

MP backs campaign

Labour MP John McDonnell, who was involved in the campaign for the release of the Guildford Four is supporting their call for changes to the compensation system.

He said: "I have a suspicion that following the release of the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six and others that the system tried to clam up to protect itself.

"We can't find out even at this stage how these assessments are made because you can't enter into discussion.

"It is not an open and transparent and therefore fair system.

"These are people who in many instances have been pressurised into settling for sums of money when they are in no fit conditions to make those agreements.

"There is no support for them when they come out of prison, so we are asking now for the Home Secretary to review the whole system."

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