LONDON — In a landmark decision, a British appellate court Thursday exonerated three Irishmen and an Englishwoman serving life sentences for terrorist pub bombings near London in 1974 that killed eight people and injured 90.
The three-judge panel acted after an attorney representing the government said the convictions of the so-called Guildford Four were based on evidence "concocted" by police investigators.
The decision touched off calls for reviews of other cases of terrorist activity on behalf of the outlawed Irish Republican Army, which opposes British rule in Northern Ireland. It also spurred demands for new legal procedures that would give greater protection to accused criminals, particularly in cases that hinge on confessions.
The Guildford Four, so called because the most lethal of the bombings took place in a town by that name southwest of London, originally confessed but then--at their 1975 trial--recanted and accused the police of coercion. Prosecutors offered no corroborating physical evidence.