An absence of memory does not, however, make a crime any less troubling, both emotionally and morally.
Fortunately, police inquiries rarely concern themselves with morality, still less emotion, and that is correct. They do, however, have everything to do with the pursuit of justice; and the demands of justice are no less fierce now than in 1994 when Sir Ronald announced the failure of the re-investigation.
Time may heal wounds but it does not negate the call of justice.
Julie Hambleton appreciates this more than most. Her sister Maxine, a 21-year-old law student, died in the Tavern in the Town, which was hit by the IRA together with the Mulberry Bush.
Ms Hambleton hopes the Internet and social media will do what successive regimes at West Midlands Police and successive governments have failed to do – and put the injustice of the pub bombings back on the political agenda. A campaign group called www.Justice4the21.com has been established and an online petition calling for a Parliamentary debate has been launched. The latter needs 100,000 signatures by December 1 to succeed. It currently has 2,207, including mine.
Justice 4 The 21 has also made films about its campaign and posted them on YouTube to raise the profile of the petition.
Now I can’t believe that a crime of the sickening magnitude of the pub bombings would remain unresolved had it been perpetrated in central London, or in Northern Ireland. The clamour for a new investigation would be overwhelming.
It has emerged that West Midlands Police has just spent £500,000 paying consultants to advise on its budget cuts. And yet it can’t find the cash, or summon up the nerve, to re-open the pub bombings inquiry.
It stretches credibility that the force’s cold case unit, which looks at unsolved crimes, has not been assigned to take a look at the West Midlands’ biggest uncleared offence. The force says it needs new evidence to start an new inquiry, but is this in line with standard cold case practice?
And has it not crossed someone’s mind that the evidence – forensic or otherwise – might be contained in the archives?