The names of alleged Birmingham pub bombing suspects will not be part of the new inquests into victims’ deaths.

Coroner Sir Peter Thornton QC had decided to exclude the “perpetrator issue” from the inquests in July last year.

This had angered relatives of those who were among the 21 killed and 182 injured in the 1974 bombings.

A judicial review had then been brought on behalf of bereaved families by Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine was 18 when she was killed in the tragedy.

Ms Hambleton, spokeswoman for victims’ campaign group Justice4the21, had said it would be “utterly redundant to have the inquests unless the perpetrators, their associates and those who prepared and planted the bombs are included”.

The Tavern in the Town was one of two pubs targeted by the IRA in Birmingham on 21 November, 1974
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The Tavern in the Town was one of two pubs targeted in 1974

The High Court had then quashed Sir Peter’s decision in January, prompting him to appeal.

On Wednesday, Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett announced that Sir Peter had made “no error of law” and that his decision “is not open to legal objection”.

He added: “We allow the appeal and restore the original decision.”

The bombings at the Mulberry Bush and Tavern In The Town pubs were widely believed to be the work of the IRA.

The Birmingham Six, from left, top; Patrick Hill, Hugh Callaghan and John Walker. Bottom; Richard McIlkenny, Gerard Hunter and William Power
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The ‘Birmingham Six’ were jailed but their convictions were later quashed

A group of Irishmen known as the Birmingham Six were jailed in 1975 but their convictions were quashed on appeal in 1991.

During Sir Peter’s appeal proceedings, Peter Skelton QC, representing the coroner, had said the victims, their families and the public interest “cannot be served” by a promised resolution that “cannot be delivered”.

Hugh Southey QC, representing the families, had told the appeal judges: “There is the utmost public interest in the proper investigation of who was responsible for the Birmingham bombings.

“The families of the deceased said to the appellant (Sir Peter) that the investigation of this issue was so important to them that if it did not form part of the scope of the inquest ‘we may as well not have an inquest at all’.”

Speaking near a memorial to the victims in the grounds of Birmingham’s Anglican Cathedral, members of Justice4the21 said they were seeking legal advice with a view to an appeal.

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Julie Hambleton said: “Without the perpetrator issue being a part of the scope (of the inquest) how can you ever possibly finish the jigsaw? You have got a major part of it missing.”

The inquests are yet to begin.