03 May 2006

Wrongly convicted men claim libel


Mr Hill and Mr Conlon were both wrongly convicted in the 1970s

Two men wrongly convicted of 1970s IRA bombings are among a group of people seeking to sue Home Office Minister Fiona MacTaggart over an alleged libel.

Gerry Conlon, of the Guildford Four, and Paddy Hill, of the Birmingham Six, are among the group of victims of miscarriages of justice.

They say Ms MacTaggart talked of average compensation to a "criminal" whose conviction was quashed.

The group argues that people would associate the remarks with its members.

The Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (Mojo) said Ms MacTaggart's comments in a broadcast interview were reproduced in newspapers.

It added that those launching the legal action argue that because there are a relatively small number of high-profile miscarriage of justice cases, people would associate the remarks with them.

A Mojo spokesman added: "This is deeply embarrassing for the government. Gerry Conlon had a public apology from the prime minister only last year."

Mr Conlon was wrongly imprisoned for an IRA bombing in Guildford in 1974, and cleared on appeal in 1989.

Mr Hill wrongly served 16 years in jail over IRA bombings in Birmingham in 1974. He later co-founded Mojo.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We can confirm that the Home Office has received a letter and that we shall respond in due course."

The interview by Ms MacTaggart was given as the government announced a cut in compensation to victims of miscarriages of justice.

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