7/7 Inquiry Group

Keeping an eye on the media coverage of July 7th, and taking the media to task over their inaccuracies, mis-leading statements and distortions. Post all your complaints and responses here! If you spot inaccuracies in the media coverage, here's the place to tell us about it.

7/7 Inquiry Group

Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

01 May 2007, 23:49 #1

'Inquiry needed to minimise future deaths'

Following is the full text of the letter asking the home secretary, John Reid, for an independent inquiry into the July 7 2005 bombings. It is written by Oury Clark Solicitors.

Tuesday May 1, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

We act on behalf of Rachel North, Paul Mitchell, Janine Mitchell, Jacqui Putnam, Ros Morley, Tim Coulson, Elizabeth Kenworthy, Susan Maxwell, David Gould, Graham Foulkes, Nader Mozakka, Brian Morley, Lesley Ratcliff, Angela Ioannou, Robert Webb, Saba Mozakka, Sandra Brewster, Joe Kerr and others who were materially affected by events that took place in London on 7th July 2005.

As you are more than aware, during the morning rush hour of 7th July 2005, a series of coordinated terrorist bomb blasts hit the London public transport system.

Three bombs exploded on London Underground trains, respectively on an eastbound Circle line train, on a westbound Circle line train and on a westbound Piccadilly line train. A fourth bomb exploded on a double-decker bus approximately one hour later at Tavistock Square.

Fifty-six people, including the four perpetrators, were killed in the attacks and about 700 were injured.

Nature and purpose of inquiry sought:
Our clients seek an independent and impartial public inquiry into events that took place on 7th July 2005 with a view to the production of a publicly available report containing appropriate recommendations.

One of the key purposes of the inquiry would be to examine issues aimed at saving lives, minimising suffering and improving the response of government agencies to the continuing threat of terrorist attacks in the UK and abroad and in the event of any similar attack in the future.

Issues to be examined by the independent public inquiry:
Whilst this is not an exhaustive list of issues, our clients seek the production of a comprehensive, accurate and definitive factual account of how the bombings occurred culminating in the attacks themselves, the police investigation and the emergency response to the bombings.

Our clients are prepared to accept that the inquiry should not prejudice any ongoing investigation, but will expect you to account for what investigations are ongoing and how they may be prejudiced.

The inquiry should also focus upon communication as between the government, the police, the bereaved and survivors, government agencies charged with preventing terrorism investigating attacks and responding to the needs of the bereaved, the injured and any other survivors, and as between the emergency services internally within each service and with each other in the aftermath of an attack.

Additionally, our clients consider that the independent public inquiry should address the issue of safety on public transport, coordinated care for the bereaved, injured and other survivors as well as a focus upon the adequacies of existing compensatory mechanisms to include the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

Powers of the inquiry:
Our clients request an effective inquiry, being one which has the appropriate powers to require witness and documentary evidence and to invite relevant contributions from all stakeholders indirectly and directly affected by the incidences.

We note that to date no such independent and impartial public inquiry has been established and it is believed by our clients that such an inquiry is necessary to demonstrate effective due diligence in seeking to minimise death and suffering in the event of future attacks as well as demonstrating a step which will assist public confidence with the perception of being seen to take all appropriate steps as a responsible government to ensure independence in the process of protecting life.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss the content of this letter in company of our clients but in the first instance invite your written response to our clients' formal request that you order an inquiry into the London bombings on 7th July 2005 as set out in this letter.

Yours faithfully Oury Clark Solicitors

The Guardian
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti

Joined: 25 Jun 2006, 19:17

02 May 2007, 08:23 #2

In the Guardian yesterday Rachel North said:
'Now that we have discovered these men were very much on the radar of the security service and could have been stopped, that is going to be very difficult to come to terms with.  THis has fuelled my desire for an independent inquiry because it appears we have not been told the truth about what happened and what we knew about these bombers prior to 7/7.'
Time to take a chance on inviting her here? Perhaps all will be forgiven now...


Joined: 04 Dec 2005, 17:55

02 May 2007, 11:20 #3

suspecta @ May 2 2007, 08:23 AM wrote: In the Guardian yesterday Rachel North said:
'Now that we have discovered these men were very much on the radar of the security service and could have been stopped, that is going to be very difficult to come to terms with.  THis has fuelled my desire for an independent inquiry because it appears we have not been told the truth about what happened and what we knew about these bombers prior to 7/7.'
Time to take a chance on inviting her here? Perhaps all will be forgiven now...

While I would hate to discount a spontaneous outbreak of universal love and reconciliation, it seems that Rachel is wedded to the presupposition that the four were bombers. This we view as not supported by publically available evidence.
Follow the numbers.

Joined: 11 Nov 2006, 01:39

02 May 2007, 17:08 #4

The Security Services will come out and say they had to engage in the white lie of deceiving the public because it was essential to protect an ongoing operation.

When this announcement is made then most will be happy, and the clamour for inquiries will die.

The only reason an Inquiry is actually being rejected now is because they would find it difficult to find a judge to undertake the task given the limitations imposed from the outset by the Inquiries Act 2005. The Government would be very embarrassed to announce an Inquiry, and then not find a judge to carry it out.
People don't do what is right.
They do what's most convenient
And then they repent.

Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

03 May 2007, 10:25 #5

Blair rejects fresh calls for inquiry into 7/7 attacks

· New investigation would undermine MI5, says PM
· Security committee lacked resources, argue Tories

Tania Branigan, political correspondent
Thursday May 3, 2007
The Guardian

A fresh inquiry into links between the July 7 terrorists and the fertiliser bomb plot is unnecessary because the parliamentary committee that oversees MI5 has already examined all the relevant information, Tony Blair said yesterday.

Mr Blair said a fresh investigation of the security service's decision not to monitor Mohammad Sidique Khan, the tube bomber, would divert resources from the fight against terrorism and undermine support for MI5.

The intelligence and security committee (ISC) is to look again at the evidence it took for its report into the bombings, which cleared the security service of "culpable failures", after five men were convicted of planning terrorist attacks at the Old Bailey this week.

Speaking at prime minister's questions yesterday, David Cameron, the Tory leader, said only an independent inquiry would "get to the truth", arguing that the committee lacked investigative resources.

But Mr Blair told MPs: "I have ruled out having another proper and independent inquiry. The fact is the ISC went into all of these issues in immense detail." He said the ISC could ask for any information it wanted and had enjoyed maximum cooperation from witnesses, adding: "The reason why people want another inquiry - and I totally understand both the grief of the victims of 7/7 and their anxiety to have another inquiry - is because they want another inquiry to reach a different conclusion."

But 7/7 survivor Rachel North said: "The fact they [the ISC] have been asked to look at the matter again causes problems because they did not do it right the first time.

"What we want is an independent person - properly independent of the government and security services - who can trawl through all the information available and make recommendations. That is not happening."

There has been sustained scrutiny of the ISC's investigation, not least because little is known about what evidence it uncovered. By Mr Blair's admission, its report into the London bombings was "somewhat cryptic" because the fertiliser bomb plot had not yet come to court and was still sub judice.

But there appears to be no reason why the ISC could not release a more detailed account of the inquiry now if it wished, or even call fresh evidence. The prime minister's official spokesman said all such decisions were up to committee chairman Paul Murphy and his colleagues.

Earlier this week Mr Murphy, the former Northern Ireland secretary, said MI5 had not monitored Khan because of "higher investigative priorities", including surveillance of those known to be planning attacks on the UK.

He added: "The fact that the July attacks were not prevented shows that there were - and are - clearly areas for improvement, but overall, the committee found that there were no culpable failures by the security and intelligence agencies."

There have been longstanding calls for reform of the ISC from Labour backbenchers such as Chris Mullin, as well as the Conservatives.

Lord King, the Conservative former chairman of the committee, said the role should be held by an opposition member as a matter of course, to safeguard its credibility. He also suggested the ISC should employ an investigator, as it did during his tenure.

Explainer: The inquiry

The four key questions

The intelligence and security committee (ISC) must answer these questions:

Why did MI5 and the police not take more urgent steps to identify July7 bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer?

In its report a year ago, written under restrictions to avoid prejudicing the trial of the fertiliser bomb plotters, the committee said it was possible that the chances of preventing the July 7 attacks "might have been greater had different investigative decisions been taken in 2003-05". But the committee concluded that MI5's decisions were "understandable". It is now clear that MI5 and the police had many opportunities to identify Khan and Tanweer in 2004 and again in early 2005.

Did Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism branch or MI5 tell West Yorkshire police, in whose area the July 7 bombers lived, all it knew about the two men?

Paul Murphy, ISC chairman, says he thought his committee was informed that the police were told. David Cameron said in the Commons that they were not. We still do not know much about the exchanges of information between those leading the investigation into the plotters and relevant police forces.

Was the ISC given all the relevant information for its inquiry?

We now know that it did not see all of the surveillance photos - taken by the police, not MI5 - of the fertiliser bomb plotters with Khan or Tanweer. Security officials say the committee did not need to see them, since members were aware of those links. Evidence which emerged during Operation Crevice which led to the fertiliser plot trial is relevant, including new information about links between plotters here and training camps in Pakistan.

But is the committee up to it? Can the public have confidence in its judgments and reports?

The committee has no independent investigator or investigative powers. It has few resources of its own. It is led by a senior MP from the government party, currently Mr Murphy. Its members are appointed by the prime minister and it always meets in private. Members argue that private sessions encourage witnesses from security and intelligence agencies to be more frank.
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti

Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

06 May 2007, 09:39 #6

Honeymoon? This verdict put it on hold

Last weekend 7/7 survivor Rachel North got married in Norwich Cathedral. But then the storm broke over the terror trial. She recounts her week of crazy contrasts

The phone started beeping and ringing as soon as I got on the train back to London. I turned to my husband, whom I had married 48 hours earlier in Norwich Cathedral. He was smiling, looking out of the train window at the spring sunshine. Next to him was a pile of wedding presents that we had spent the morning unwrapping at my parents’ house. Both of us were still on a huge high after our wedding day, the beautiful service and the celebrations with over a hundred family and friends. I knew before I picked up the phone what the messages would be about. “Verdict coming.” “It’s time.” The honeymoon bliss would have to be put on hold.

“I’m really sorry, darling,” I said, “I need to take these calls. It’s the Operation Crevice trial verdict. It’s finally happening.”

He looked at me. Now? The timing was awful. But he knew how long, and how much I and the other 7/7 survivors and families had been waiting for this.

“Good luck, honey.” We kissed, and then I walked to a quiet part of the train and started to take the calls from the media. All of them wanted to know the same thing: what was my reaction to the news that the London bombers had been tailed a year before the bombings – but not stopped?

For over a year, I and other survivors and bereaved families had kept quiet about what we had gradually found out about the links between the July 7 bombers and the men who had just been found guilty of planning huge fertiliser bomb attacks at Bluewater shopping centre in Kent and the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London. Operation Crevice was a brilliant result for the security services and police, averting the loss of hundreds of innocent lives. British terrorists planning appalling bomb attacks had been captured after a massive surveillance operation.

But the success of Operation Crevice masked a dramatic secret: the security services had followed 7/7 bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shezhad Tanweer as they associated with the fertiliser bomb plotters. Khan had attended terrorist training camps abroad with them and engaged in criminal activity to raise money to support jihad.

Khan and Omar Khyam, the leader of the fertiliser plotters, had used antisurveillance techniques as they drove about together. For months in 2004 they had been taped and photographed – but the 7/7 men had somehow slipped the net. And they had gone on to murder 52 people and injure almost 800 more in Britain’s worst terrorist attack – a year later. Perhaps July 7, 2005 was the postCrevice Plan B? Did Khan decide to use suicide bomb tactics because of the failure of Khyam’s giant fertiliser bomb plot?

What the other survivors and I were most concerned about was whether the public was any safer since the bombings of July 7 2005. The more we discovered the more suspicious we became because what we had been told originally just didn’t check out.

In the days after 7/7 Charles Clarke, the then home secretary, told the public that the bombers were “clean skins”. That they had come out of the blue, unnoticed, unstop-pable. He said that he had not ruled out an inquiry into the bombings that had killed 26 people standing behind me in my Tube carriage.

Then, in December 2005, I wanted to weep when Tony Blair ruled out an inquiry into the bombings. His arguing that an inquiry would “take too long, cost too much and only tell us what we already know” seemed crazy: the US had managed to hold the 9/11 commission (the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States) while fighting the war on terror in Iraq and elsewhere. It had not taken years, it had not cost billions. The commission’s report became a US bestseller. Surely, I thought, the British public deserved to know the facts about the first home-grown suicide bombing on western soil?

The home secretary had promised only an “official narrative” about what had happened but it was not “what” so much as “why” and “how” the bombings had happened that haunted the victims. We then heard that the Intelligence and Securities Committee (ISC) would investigate the work of M15. I trusted (naively) that this committee of MPs would ask searching questions and that all the evidence would be presented and evaluated, particularly concerning communications between the police and the security services. I know now, that did not happen.

As time passed, I wrote about my struggle to understand the suicide bombings on my website diary. Other survivors and bereaved families began to contact me. Their stories were heartbreaking. There was a real sense of disbelief at the decision not to have an inquiry into the bombings. There was frustration at how reliant we were on leaks and stories in the media to get information.

After hearing those who had lost loved ones or been injured, I promised that I would do what I could in my small way as a blogger to keep the issue alive. After all, I had my health and my life. I had not been able to help people on the day, but I could use my writing and my campaigning skills to try and help now. It helped to assuage the survivor guilt that I still felt; the strange traumatised shame of being left alive when so many people in my Tube carriage had died.

I tried to find out what I could, to fill in the gaps in the official accounts. For still we survivors had no answers. And we did not think anyone was any safer than on July 7, and that was hard to live with.

Despite my suspicions I knew that something was truly not right when I attended a private meeting for survivors at the Home Office in spring 2006. A senior police officer told us that Khan’s details had come up as having “links to international terrorism” – within 48 hours of the bombs exploding. How could this be, if the bombers’ ringleader had never been on the radar before? I started digging, and I met with other survivors and bereaved families. We shared what information we could glean and the more I found out, the more sick I felt. We were simply not being told the truth.

By the time the Crevice trial jury retired in March 2007, an online group had sprung up, where survivors and bereaved families privately discussed what we could do to beg the government for an inquiry, now that reporting restrictions were about to be lifted. People who had shunned the media since 7/7 were feeling sufficiently angry and upset to speak out.

We wanted an impartial, honest inquiry, chaired by someone independent of government and the security services. An inquiry which had the power to cross-examine wit-nesses and compel evidence, that could talk to all the stakeholders and agencies involved in 7/7, and make recommendations. Above all, it would reassure the public that lessons had been learnt that we would all be safer in the future.

We drafted a letter, ready to take to the home secretary as soon as the Crevice verdict was given, asking for an impartial and independent inquiry. Then we waited. The verdict took weeks to come. As my wedding approached, I often found myself in tears, selfishly wishing I had not promised to help. I chewed my cheek until it bled, worrying we would be misrepresented as traumatised obsessives trying to blame the security services. I had shuddering breathless panic attacks about whether I would let people down when asked to speak on their behalf.

I couldn’t sleep, anxious about whether the public would understand why we needed an inquiry. I was also feeling guilty about the effect this was having on my fiancé and family and social life. As a bride-to-be I wanted to focus on the happy details of my imminent wedding. Flowers and silk dress-es, celebrations and champagne, my love for my fiancé – not the political row brewing.

It was hard when people asked me if I felt stressed planning the wedding. No, I wanted to say, the wedding planning fills me with joy. Only I don’t have any time to enjoy it. I spend eight hours a day being asked about terrorism and death instead. And I hate what it is doing to me.

The day before the wedding I was nervous, not about walking down the aisle but about the news coming the following week. The wedding went ahead last Saturday. It was the most wonderful day of my life and of course I did not think of terrorism or responsibilities all day. I walked about in a haze of love and happiness, and the only tears I cried were tears of joy.

But from the moment I started taking those calls on the train I could feel myself change from blissed-out bride to a political campaigner, ready to speak out. My jaw tightened, my posture changed, as the wedding dreaminess faded and reality rushed back in.

I talked to Sky TV live as the train hurtled through a tunnel, did some phone interviews hiding in the train loo, arrived at Liverpool Street station, caught a cab home and was carried over the threshold into our flat by my husband – as a new bride should be. Then I threw on a suit and set off for a frantic round of interviews – I lost track. I rushed to a park for an ITN news special, then to Channel 4 News for a live interview. Jon Snow, who had interviewed me before, remarked that I looked well. I told him marriage was agreeing with me. The day flew past and I realised I had not eaten: it was 8.30pm.

Outside, I caught up with how others from our group had done. Brilliantly. More calls came in. Would I do a live panel discussion on Newsnight? I had already recorded an interview for them, but yes, okay. Then more calls: would I do BBC Breakfast the next day? Argh, that meant only a few hours’ sleep. But I would be able to catch up with Danny Biddle, the most seriously injured of all the 7/7 survivors, who was also on BBC Breakfast. Danny had lost both legs, an eye, a spleen, been burnt and almost died several times when Khan exploded his bomb opposite him. He was supporting the calls for an inquiry. His story of survival was staggering, his courage immense. Danny’s example was part of my motiva-tion to do all I could for the inquiry campaign.

By Newsnight I realised there was a big row brewing about whether the July 7 bombers’ names had been known to MI5 before the event. It was starting to look as if the ISC had either not asked the right questions, or had not been shown all the evidence, including photos of the bombers talking to the Crevice plotters taken by police. And now we were supposed to trust this handpicked committee of MPs who were appointed by the prime minister, with no independent investigator or investigative powers, and few resources of its own, to go through all the evidence again?

The following day at the Home Office we handed in a letter asking for a proper inquiry. Then I left for my honeymoon. Meanwhile David Cameron tackled Tony Blair in the House of Commons about the need for a proper inquiry as pressure mounted about the apparent insufficiencies of the ISC report.

But as I write this, the prime minister remains adamant that a full inquiry would divert resources and undermine M15. Last Thursday he told the Commons: “The fact is the ISC went into all of these issues in immense detail.”

Five days after the verdict came back in the Crevice trial, both opposition parties have joined our calls for the truth about 7/7 to be revealed. It took four years to get the 9/11 commission report, after many rebuffs from the US administration. Perhaps it will not take us as long. We are a group of determined people. We have legal advice, and we have time on our side. Soon Blair will go. We will see what happens after that.

I am tired, but pleased, as I write this, at sunrise from my honeymoon hotel, that the story is still running. I am so damn proud of what the group has achieved in raising the issue. And I know, having been inspired by them all year, just how strong these people can be.

The Times
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti

Joined: 04 Dec 2005, 17:55

06 May 2007, 11:06 #7

A Public Inquiry into MI5?

There are currently widespread calls for a public inquiry into the 7/7 bombings in the wake of the Fertiliser Bomb Trial.

One thing that needs to be borne in mind is that public inquiries were effectively abolished by the Inquiries Act 2005. The act's significance was well summed up by Joshua Rozenberg at the time it was passed:
    Remember the fine old tradition of the British public inquiry? The fearless chairman, often a judge, who could never be sacked? The terms of reference, laid down in advance, that could never be altered? The publication of evidence, both oral and written, that the Government could never prevent?

    All gone - thanks to the Inquiries Act 2005, passed a week ago while your back was turned. Forget about independent inquiries: ministers are now in control. (Telegraph)
Under the new legislation, the Minister involved, presumably in this case John Reid, would have far-reaching powers:
    The Minister:

    ·        decides whether there should be an inquiry

    ·        sets its terms of reference

    ·        can amend its terms of reference

    ·        appoints its members

    ·        can restrict public access to inquiries

    ·        can prevent the publication of evidence placed before an inquiry

    ·        can prevent the publication of the inquiry’s report

    ·        can suspend or terminate an inquiry

    ·        can withhold the costs of any part of an inquiry which strays beyond the terms of reference set by the Minister.
Parliament’s role has been reduced to that of the passive recipient of information about inquiries, whereas under the 1921 Act reports of public inquiries were made to Parliament. Now, not only is there no guarantee that any inquiry will be public, but inquiry reports will go to the Minister. (British-Irish Rights Watch)

Although the Inquiries Act had far-reaching implications, it was designed to deal with one particular case, a case in which, as it happens, MI5 has very serious questions to answer.

Patrick Finucane, an outspoken human rights lawyer, was shot dead in his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 12 February 1989 by Loyalist paramilitaries. In the aftermath of his killing, prima facie evidence of criminal conduct by police and military intelligence agents, acting in collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries in his murder, emerged. In addition, allegations have emerged of a subsequent cover-up by different government agencies and authorities.

In April 2004, an independent report, commissioned by the UK and Irish governments, concluded that "only a public inquiry will suffice" in Patrick Finucane's case.
    Instead, in the face of strong criticism and opposition, the UK executive railroaded the Inquiries Bill through Parliament and managed to have it passed as legislation as the Inquiries Act 2005 on 7 April 2005, the last possible day before Parliament was dissolved. Any inquiry, held under the new Act, would be controlled by the executive which, under it, is empowered to block public scrutiny of state actions. It will affect not only Patrick Finucane's case, but also other major incidents which would warrant public scrutiny of the actions of the state, such as failures of public services, deaths in prisons, rail disasters and army deaths in disputed circumstances. (Amnesty International)
For there to be any serious inquiry into 7/7, the Inquiries Act 2005 will have to be repealed. There is certainly a strong case for such an inquiry, although I have a lot of sympathy for Craig Murray's view:
    I also accept that there is a great deal of truth in MI5's defence on 7/7, that you simply can't follow up on every lead. Bluntly, I would not want to live in the kind of Police State that could, and the logic of many of those posting on 7/7 failure would tend to lead us towards the kind of massive surveillance and intrusion of Karimov's Uzbekistan. I have seen that, and believe me, we do not want more of it here. (Craig Murray)
On the other hand, MI5 do seem to have had a high level informer, the guy referred to as 'Q' in Peter Taylor's Panorama documentary, which raises all the usual questions about the ambiguous role of such individuals so familiar from cases such as those of Brian Nelson and Freddie Scappaticci - true wilderness of mirrors territory.

The Irish experience suggests that protecting innocent people is far from being MI5's number one priority. It also suggests that holding the Security Service to account will be no easy task.
Follow the numbers.