News from Ireland: Blair Apologizes to Guildford Four

Tony Blair. (Photo by Crispin Rodwell.

By Irish America Staff
August / September 2000

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has apologized to the Guildford Four who spent 15 years in prison before their convictions for IRA bomb attacks were overturned in 1989 after it emerged that police had concocted evidence against them.

A letter of apology, in which Blair said he was “very sorry,” was sent to Courtney Kennedy Hill, the wife of Guildford Four member Paul Hill. Said the British leader: “I believe that it is an indictment of our system of justice and a matter for the greatest regret when anyone suffers punishment as a result of a miscarriage of justice. 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.”

Hill, who is waiting for a final settlement from the British government, told a BBC current affairs program: “No one knows the monetary value you can put on fifteen years. I don’t think there is anybody alive who can come out of that experience and not be scarred. Those who would begrudge me my compensation, their minds are smaller than peas. To those who say, ‘Oh, he’s flying well,’ you have no idea.”

Hill, Gerry Conlon, Patrick Armstrong, and Carole Richardson were accused of the Guildford pub bombings in 1974. ♦

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