I met Mr. Collins on 8 January for discussion on a range of subjects. Mr. Collins asked me about the further material which had been submitted to me on behalf of the Birmingham Six. I told him that I will decide as soon as possible whether that further material justifies any intervention on my part.
In view of the indelible and dishonourable stain left on the British legal system by the conduct of the Court of Appeal in this case, could not the Home Secretary make amends by telling the British public and the Irish Foreign Secretary that he will release the Birmingham Six forthwith and then invite the Director of Public Prosecutions to present the case to the Court of Appeal in such a way that their Lordships have no option but to allow the appeal of those innocent people?
The hon. Gentleman is talking nonsense. The House knows perfectly well what my duty is. I have already made it absolutely plain that if new evidence or new considerations that were not before the court of trial were brought before me, I should be prepared to consider such new evidence. If it cast doubt on the convictions I would not be afraid to take the proper action. However, it is absolutely improper and ridiculous of the hon. Gentleman to cast aspersions on the Court of Appeal, which carried out a long and careful examination into the evidence given in the case, including the confessions and the circumstances in which they were made, and the forensic evidence.