London terror attack victims 'unlawfully killed' -- judge
Published 07/05/2011 | 05:00
The 52 victims of the July 7, 2005, terrorist attacks on London were unlawfully killed, a coroner ruled yesterday.
At the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Ms Justice Heather Hallett said the evidence "does not justify the conclusion that any failings of any organisation or individual caused or contributed to the deaths".
She spoke to a courtroom packed with bereaved families and survivors who have waited nearly six years for answers to their questions about how four suicide bombers were able to carry out the attacks.
She also warned that London was "woefully" unprepared for a terrorist attack on the 2012 Olympics because of a chronic shortage of air ambulance crews and other fast response teams.
The coroner expressed "grave concern" about the patchy provision for medics at major incidents, which is hugely reliant on volunteers and charity donations, and suggested that lives would be lost unnecessarily in any future incident unless the issue was urgently addressed.
By "pure chance", the London Air Ambulance had 27 doctors and paramedics available on the day of the suicide bombings, because it was holding a conference that day.
But on any other day, only a two-man team would have been on duty, the coroner said, which falls "woefully short" of the cover needed.
She added: "I am concerned that London, a major global capital, host to the Olympics in 2012 and a prime terrorist target, should find itself dependent on corporate funding and charitable donations, and upon professional volunteers giving up their free time."
The inquest had heard that poor communication between the emergency services and transport workers led to delays of up to 50 minutes in sending ambulances to the bomb sites.
London Underground was criticised for taking 50 minutes to evacuate the Tube network, despite early reports of a terrorist attack. The coroner said: "It is surprising that, making all allowances for the inevitable confusion at the beginning of a major incident, the (Tube) Network Control Centre was not sure of the facts earlier."
At the London Ambulance Service's control centre, "difficulties were particularly pronounced" because "a single radio operator was assigned to two radio channels for all four incidents, as well as logging all the incoming communications". But Ms Justice Hallett stressed that none of the failings of the emergency services had caused or contributed to the deaths of any of the 52 victims.
Meanwhile Cavan native Sean Cassidy, whose son Ciaran (22) died in the attack, said yesterday that security forces should have done more for the injured of the London bombings. "I know nothing could have been done for the people that died but if the security services were there they could have given an injection or pain killers to the injured", he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)