Wednesday 21 February 2018

Video: Coroner clears MI5 and emergency services in 7/7 inquest

Gordon Rayner

The 7/7 coroner cleared MI5 and the emergency services of responsibility for the deaths of the 52 victims of the bombings, as she delivered unlawful killing verdicts.

Lady Justice Hallett said: "The evidence I have heard does not justify the conclusion that any failings on the part of any organisation or individual caused or contributed to any of the deaths."

In her long awaited ruling, the coroner also said that none of the 52 victims could have been saved even if the emergency services had arrived on the scene sooner.

Despite having heard evidence of delays of up to an hour in getting to the bomb sites, the coroner said: "The medical and scientific evidence in relation to all 52 victims leads to only one sad conclusion. I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that each of them would have died whatever time the emergency services had reached and rescued them."

The coroner ruled that no full inquests will be held into the deaths of the four bombers. None of their families have made any requests for the inquests into their deaths to be resumed.

She said: "In the light of the position adopted by their families and given that the inquests into the deaths of the 52 victims have led to the most rigorous scrutiny of the events of July 7, 2005, I can find no cause whatsoever to resume the inquests into the deaths of the four men."

Lady Justice Hallett paid tribute to the "quiet dignity" of the families of the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks.

The coroner said she was making a series of recommendations which "may save lives" in the future.

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 July 7 2005 attacks on London.

The coroner also thanked the survivors of the attacks, many of whom are still suffering from the trauma of their horrific experiences, for giving evidence to the inquest. "Reliving the events of 7/7 was the last thing they needed," she said.

She also said she believed that the hearings had successfully examined highly-sensitive MI5 material relating to the occasions when the bombers came across the security agencies' radar before the attacks.

"To my mind, the concerns that I would not be able to conduct a thorough and fair investigation into the security issues in wholly open evidential proceedings have proved unfounded," she said.

The hearing was earlier told that MI5 missed a series of opportunities to catch Mohammed Sidique Khan, the leader of the July 7 bombers, and that the security service kept very few records of its decision not to follow him up at the end of an operation in which he first crossed the service’s radar back in 2004.

A succession of witnesses told the inquest that the emergency services were overburdened by rules and regulations that prevented them reacting more quickly.

The hearing heard that it was impossible to know if any of the 18 victims who survived the initial blasts but later died, could have been saved if they had received attention sooner.

The coroner raised concerns about the failure to implement recommendations made after the 1987 King’s Cross fire about underground radio communication by the time of the July 7 attacks.

She said: “I don’t want to make recommendations that go to the question of saving people’s lives and think that it’s going to lie on a shelf for 15 years.”

The families of those killed have waited nearly six years for the inquest to give them answers about how their loved ones died and whether their deaths could have been prevented.

Lawyers for the bereaved families have called for stricter controls on the sale of hydrogen peroxide, the main ingredient in the home-made bombs used in the attacks.

The families also made nine recommendations on how MI5 could improve their work.

However, they accepted that, even if the security service had followed every lead, the attacks could still not have been “reasonably prevented”.

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