On 5 October 1974, five people were killed and approximately 65 were injured after two 6-pound gelignite bombs went off in two pubs – – the Horse and Groom and the Seven Stars – – in Guildford, England. All but one of the deaths were British soldiers just returning from “duty” in the occupied North of Ireland.
In 1975, three men and one woman were convicted of the bombings and given life sentences based on coerced testimony and fabricated evidence. A 1977 appeal was rejected. However a second appeal was opened in 1987 with additional evidence of British collusion presented. Finally, in 1989, the convictions of the so-called “Guilford Four,” having already spent 15 years in a British prison, were declared a gross miscarriage of justice by a Court of Appeal. Although three British police officers – Thomas Style, John Donaldson, and Vernon Attwell – were subsequently charged with fabricating evidence in their investigation of the Guildford bombings, those charges were, as expected, dismissed.
The film, “In the Name of the Father,” (1993) is based on the plight of The Guilford Four, one of whom (Paul Michael Hill) would go on to marry Courtney Kennedy, the daughter of American President Robert Kennedy (assassinated in 1968), and a subseqent miscarriage of justice against the so-called “Maguire Seven,” who were tried and convicted in 1976 for making the explosives used in the bombings; and whose charges were reversed in 1991.
Notably, four of the PIRA’s six-member unit known as the “Balcombe Street Siege Gang,” had claimed responsibility for the murders. When they were on trial in 1997 for charges related to the Balcombe Street siege, they asked their solicitors to “draw attention to the fact that four totally innocent people were serving massive prison sentences” for the Guilford blast as well as for three bombings in Woolwich, but they were never charged for those incidents.
On 6 June 2000, 25 years after the four young people were wrongfully convicted of the bombings, Tony Blair became the first person in authority to apologise for the Miscarriage of Justice.
Guildford Four: Paul Michael Hill, aged 21; Gerard “Gerry” Conlon (21); Patrick “Paddy” Armstrong (25); and Carole Richardson (18) at the time of the trial.
Maguire Seven: Anne Maguire, aged 40, her husband Patrick Maguire (42), their son Patrick Maguire (17); William Smyth, brother to Anne Maguire (37); Patrick O’Neill, a family friend (35); and Patrick “Giuseppe” Conlon, who died in prison never knowing they would be found innocent, brother-in-law to Anne Maguire (52) – father of the Guildford Four’s Gerry Conlon, pictured above speaking of another Miscarrarge of Justice, The Craigavon Two.
with many thanks to: Ireland’s Own, for the orgional story.