Paul Hill prison letters documentary to air on BBC

Guildford Four man’s words give a real sense of an ordinary young man caught in a terrible miscarriage of justice, trying to reassure his mother, growing up at a distance from the world and his loved ones

From his cell, Paul Hill watched the world change: the birth of his child, the Thatcher years, punk, the miners’ strike, the death of John Lennon, Glasnost. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

From his cell, Paul Hill watched the world change: the birth of his child, the Thatcher years, punk, the miners’ strike, the death of John Lennon, Glasnost. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

A documentary based on Paul Hill’s prison letters will be broadcast tomorrow, Saturday, October 4th, at 8pm on BBC Radio 4.

From Inside: the Guildford Four centres on the previously unheard letters home of Paul Hill, written during his 15-year wrongful incarceration for the Guildford pub bombings. Paul Hill was one of the Guildford Four, who were subsequently found to have been wrongly convicted of IRA pub bombings in England in 1974. After a lengthy campaign, their convictions were quashed and they were released in 1989.

Martin McNamara presents this collection of passionate, evocative, angry and poignant letters written by Hill to members of his family, especially his mother, sister and uncle. His words give a real sense of an ordinary young man caught in a terrible miscarriage of justice, trying to reassure his mother, growing up at a distance from the world and his loved ones. They eloquently chart the nightmare of being jailed for something he did not do.

At the original trial, where the convictions were based solely on confessions, the judge regretted that he could not impose the death penalty. From his cell, Hill watched the world change: the birth of his child, the Thatcher years, punk, the miners’ strike, the death of John Lennon, Glasnost.

The programme includes interviews with Hill himself from his adopted home in the USA, and with Joshua Rozenberg, who was the BBC legal correspondent during the period of Hill’s incarceration and release.

After his release Hill donated hundreds of the letters he sent to his family to the Archive of the Irish in Britain at the London Metropolitan University. The Paul Hill Prison Letters are one of the most historically important deposits in the archive, which is looking to raise funds to digitize the letters and by doing so make them more accessible to researchers.

Director of the Irish Studies Centre, Tony Murray, said, “Forty years on from Hill’s original conviction, it would be fitting if this vital slice of British-Irish history was made more widely available.”

More information about From Inside: the Guildford Four is available at bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k4034

Further information about the Archive of the Irish in Britain is available by contacting irishinbritainarchive@londonmet.ac.uk or visit the Irish Studies Centre website:

metranet.londonmet.ac.uk/irishstudiescentre/irishstudiescentre_home.cfm

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