A LEADING Northern Irish politician privately warned that Jeremy Corbyn was “not helpful” to the Birmingham Six, archived papers have revealed.
Mr Corbyn, MP for Islington North, campaigned for both groups in parliament and visited the prisoners, who were wrongfully convicted for IRA terror attacks on the British mainland.
Correspondence from officials working in Ireland’s foreign affairs department shows a conversation with John Hume, who was then an MP in the UK Parliament and leader of the SDLP.
The letter reads: “On the Birmingham Six case, Hume commented that the involvement of people like Jeremy Corbyn in the B6 Campaign [he was referring to a press conference held by Corbyn and Gerard Conlon yesterday] was not helpful.
“The Birmingham six have no chance of release, he remarked, unless like the G4, they get church leaders and other Establishment figures behind them.”
The letter goes on to detail that Mr Hume “remains absolutely certain” that John Walker (one of the Birmingham Six) is innocent.
Another letter found in the papers, released this month under the 30-year rule, describes a visit to one of the Guildford Four, Paul Hill, in Albany Prison in April 1989.
Shane O’Neill, the third secretary in the Irish Embassy in London wrote to the Anglo Irish Division, that Mr Hill had been comforted by the help of Mr Corbyn.
‘NO CHANCE OF RELEASE’
Mr Corbyn had raised a parliamentary question in the Commons about Mr Hill’s health issues, a saliva gland that needed removing, for which he needed an operation and found it difficult to eat.
“We spoke about Jeremy Corbyn MP’s parliamentary question,” the letter reads.
“Hill is quite optimistic about the future. He said that both Gifford and Jeremy Corbyn said that in the event of an appeal, failing there was a strong likelihood that the Home Secretary would grant a pardon within 18 months.
“He is trying to remain calm about the likely outcome of the appeal so that failure will not come as too great a disappointment.
“At the same time he is so optimistic about the number of people who have weighed in with their support.”
The Guildford Four were convicted in 1975 for murder and charges relating to two bombings in Woolwich and Guildford, which killed four off-duty British soldiers and one civilian.
The four young people were sentenced to life imprisonment and were released on October 19 1989 after having their convictions quashed, when those investigating the case found significant pieces of evidence in relation to Surrey Police’s handling of the Guildford Four and their statements.
The Birmingham Six were six Irish men who had been living in the West Midlands city at the time of two city centre pub bombings in 1974, in which 21 people were killed.
On 14 March 1991, the Birmingham six walked free, after fresh scientific evidence threw “grave doubt” on evidence, according to the appeal judge.