It was a long time coming, but when &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/hotspots/2002/10/02/37628.html' target=_blank>Tony Blair issued the prime ministerial public apology to the Conlon and Maguire families for their wrongful imprisonment for &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2001/08/16/12617.html' target=_blank>IRA bomb attacks it exceeded their expectations.
Mr Blair's apology and declaration that those jailed for the 1974 Guildford and Woolwich bombings deserved to be "completely and publicly exonerated" was what they had sought for years.
The apology was delivered in a TV statement in his office in the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2000/12/21/1589.html' target=_blank>House of Commons and then in private to those wronged by the British legal system. He then shook them by the hands. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "It was a meeting which nobody who was present will ever forget", writes This is London.
"I am very sorry that they were subject to such an ordeal and injustice. That is why I am making this apology today. They deserve to be completely and publicly exonerated," Blair said.
The 11 people, Guildford Four and Maguire Seven, were wrongly sent to prison over bombings in pubs in southern towns of Guilfordand Woolwich in 1974, which killed seven.
Gerry Conlon, the best-known of the Guildford Four, whose father died in prison while serving his sentence in 1980, said thefamilies were delighted with the apology. "Tony Blair has healed rifts, he is helping to heal wounds. It's a day I never thought would come," he said.