August 15, 2007 / 12:15 PM / 13 years ago

Legal action threat over 7/7 inquiry

LONDON (Reuters) - Survivors and relatives of those killed in the London bombings of July 7, 2005, said on Wednesday they would seek legal action to force the government to hold an independent inquiry into the capital’s worst peacetime attacks.

The bomb destroyed number 30 double-decker bus in Tavistock Square in central London is seen in this file photo dated July 8, 2005. Survivors and relatives of those killed in the London bombings of July 7, 2005, said on Wednesday they would seek legal action to force the government to hold an independent inquiry into the capital's worst peacetime attacks. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/Files

The group argue that the official accounts of the suicide bombings on three underground trains and a bus by four young British Islamists have been insufficient and inaccurate.

“We believe that our country can only benefit from an independent investigation into the largest ever terrorist attack on mainland Britain,” said Graham Foulkes, whose 22-year-old son David was killed on an underground train.

The bereaved relatives and those who escaped the bombings delivered a letter to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on Wednesday calling for the government to re-think its refusal to hold an inquiry.

They said they would seek a judicial review should their request be denied, arguing the decision would breach the European Convention on Human Rights.

Opposition politicians have echoed such calls but Smith’s predecessors have previously dismissed them, saying an inquiry would distract the already-stretched security services at a time when the country is at serious risk of attack from militants.

Britain is currently at its second highest threat level, “Severe”, meaning an attack is highly likely.

In June, a jeep laden with petrol canisters was rammed into Glasgow Airport, just days after two cars packed with gas canisters, petrol and nails were found in London.

“As we have consistently maintained, experience has shown that a fuller public inquiry can take years and divert huge resources,” a Home Office spokeswoman said, adding that a parliamentary committee was carrying out further probes.

Fuelling the group’s demands for an inquiry has been the revelation since the deadly 7/7 bombings that two of the men had been monitored by security services a year earlier, raising the suggestion the bombings could have been averted.

Shehzad Tanweer and Mohammad Sidique Khan were photographed, recorded and followed by intelligence operatives several times in early 2004 in the company of plotters who have since been jailed for planning attacks using fertiliser-based bombs.

However, the government said in the aftermath of the July 7 strikes that the bombers were “clean skins” who had not previously crossed the authorities’ radar.

“It is now clear that the security services knew far more about the bombers and the possibility of an attack than we had originally been led to believe,” said Rob Webb, whose sister Laura, 29, died on the train blown up by Khan.

“So the state looks to have breached its duty to protect life.”

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