Birmingham bombing chief suspect dramatically named at inquest amid claims he can

Inside the Mulberry Bush pub in Birmingham after the blastCredit:PA He also claimed he had given McLoughlin’s name to two police detectives while in prison just days after the bombings, but heard nothing more.Mr Thomas QC then asked whether another suspect Michael Patrick Reilly had been involved. Mr Reilly, who lives in Belfast, was named in an ITV documentary last year and accused of being the ‘Young Planter’, placing one of the bombs. Mr Reilly has strongly denied the allegation.  A chief suspect in the Birmingham pub bombings was dramatically named at the inquest into the atrocity yesterday amid claims he can never be brought to justice.Four men were identified as being involved in the mass murder of 21 innocent civilians – but only one of the quartet Michael Hayes remains alive.A convicted bomber – known only as Witness O – told the inquest that he had been given permission by the head of the IRA to name Hayes and three other men, all now dead, for their involvement in the 1974 attack.But Witness O insisted that Hayes, 70, who lives in Dublin, could not be arrested or charged as a result of the Good Friday Agreement.His claim raised the possibility that Hayes may have received a so-called ‘comfort letter’ given to IRA suspects on the run and which has been used to prevent prosecutions in the past.The names given by Witness O:Seamus McLoughlinMick MurrayMichael HayesJames GavinIn contrast, a former British Army paratrooper, now in his 70s, was charged with murder last week over the deaths of civil rights protesters shot and killed in Londonderry during Bloody Sunday in 1972.  Mick Murray (left) and James Gavin (right)Credit:Rex Witness O also said he was also aware of the nicknames of two other men involved that he knew only as “Socks” and “Dublin Dave”.Witness O, who gave evidence via videolink from Dublin, told the inquest that McLoughlin was the officer commanding the Birmingham IRA and the person responsible for selecting the targets; and that Murray was “one of the bombers”.  He recalled Murray telling him there would be “no harm” if similar bombings had been repeated, because of the “chaos” caused.When pressed by a lawyer for the bereaved families, Witness O said Hayes and Gavin were also members of the team.Lesley Thomas, the barrister representing nine of the victims’ families, asked Witness O if Hayes was part of the cell to which he replied: “Hayes, Hayes – I’ll give it (the name) to you now.”Witness O then added, in apparent reference to the Good Friday Agreement: “But he can’t be arrested. There is nobody going to be charged with this atrocity. The British Government have signed an agreement with the IRA.”When asked about Gavin,  he replied: “Well he was (involved), I met him in Dublin and he said he was.”Witness O, who described the bombings as an “atrocity”, said he had nothing to do with the attacks as he had been remanded to Winson Green jail some time before. The wrecked interior of the Mulberry BushCredit:Hulton Archive/Wesley  Mick Murray (left) and James Gavin (right) The wrecked interior of the Mulberry Bush Witness O, who told the jury he was a convicted IRA bomber who served a prison sentence in the 1970s, replied: “No, I don’t remember him at all. Reilly? I would remember that.”The barrister went on: “Michael Patrick Reilly, sometimes referred to as ‘The Young Planter’? You know who he is, don’t you? He’s the one you’re protecting, isn’t he?”The witness replied: “Who? Protecting who? No.”Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine was killed, said yesterday: “Witness O has today named the bombers involved in the Birmingham pub bombings.“I have a letter from David Thompson, chief constable of West Midlands Police, that says this is an ongoing live investigation – as such we expect action to be taken as a matter of urgency. Isn’t 44 years long enough to wait for Justice?” Inside the Mulberry Bush pub in Birmingham after the blast Relatives of the Birmingham victims yesterday demanded that West Midlands Police now ‘take urgent action’ to pursue Hayes. Army veterans will be furious that no IRA members have been convicted for the Birmingham bombings while soldiers are being charged over deaths in Northern Ireland.Two years ago, Hayes gave an interview to the BBC in which he said he took “collective responsibility” for the IRA’s attacks on the mainland, including the explosions in the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs.Six innocent men were wrongfully convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings, spending almost 17 years in jail before their convictions were quashed.The three other men identified by Witness O were named as Seamus McLoughlin, who was described as the ringleader; Mick Murray, who died 20 years ago and was one of the bomb makers; and James Gavin who planted one of the bombs. The four men have all previously been named in the media in connection with the attack. In a statement West Midlands Police said: “The pub bombing investigation has never closed. Our approach is where new facts come to light, they are scrutinised to see if people can be brought to justice. “The force will never lose sight of the tragic fact that 21 people lost their lives in the atrocities that took place in Birmingham in 1974.“It’s not appropriate to make further comment at this stage while we’re in the middle of the Coroner’s inquests.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.