Fury Of The 7/7 Families Who Demand Justice
Survivors of the July 7 bombings yesterday stepped up their campaign for an independent inquiry into claims that MI5 failed to prevent the attacks.
Dozens of them petitioned the Home Office as fresh questions emerged about the performance of the security services.
The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats seized on apparent inconsistencies in the account presented by Home Secretary John Reid.
It emerged this week that two of the suicide bombers who killed 52 on London transport in 2005 had been under MI5 surveillance since 2003.
The security service took the unprecedented step of issuing an explanation as to why it had let the bombers go, when they were in its sights.
But its account did little to satisfy the survivors of the 7/7 attacks, who said there were too many unanswered questions.
They were infuriated by the Government’s decision to reject an inquiry. Instead it ordered a review of intelligence by the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.
The Tories claimed that the Committee, made up of senior MPs and peers, could not be relied on to produce an impartial assessment, after its chairman appeared to pre-empt the review.
Former Labour Cabinet minister Paul Murphy said he stood by his committee’s conclusion last year that MI5 was not at fault.
However, yesterday, Tony Blair formally asked the Committee, which he appointed, to review the way that intelligence gathered before the bombings was handled.
At the time, the Government said that the four bombers were “clean skins” – terrorists who had never previously been spotted by security services.
But at the conclusion of the so-called fertiliser bomb trial on Monday, in which five men were sentenced to life terms for plotting explosions at civilian targets, it was revealed that MI5 had tracked two of the 7/7 bombers.
Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shezad Tanweer were recorded, photographed and followed.
But they were never identified or examined further as there was no intelligence to suggest they posed a terror threat.
MI5 has denied claims that it failed to pass the results of its surveillance to West Yorkshire police, which would have allowed the men to be pursued. Security sources said the information was passed on.
But although Mr Reid initially told MPs “no mistakes were made”, then, in a Sky interview, he appeared to concede that there was a “conflict” about whether or not the information was handed over to police investigators.
His admission was seized on by David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, who said it proved the case for an inquiry. In a letter to Mr Reid, he wrote:
“I fear that ongoing resistance to an independent inquiry will prove a false economy, in terms of the human costs at stake, the long-term effectiveness of our counter-terrorism efforts and the wider public confidence which is so critical to those efforts.”
He condemned the decision to order the Committee’s review, saying that it had no “independent investigative capacity” and would effectively be investigating itself.
Survivors and relatives of those killed marched to the Home Office to deliver a letter to Mr Reid calling for an independent inquiry.
They demanded a “comprehensive, accurate and definitive” account of events. The letter was signed by up to 50 of those affected by the attacks that killed 52 and left nearly 1,000 injured.
Among those backing the 7/7 Inquiry Group was Danny Biddle, of East London, who lost both legs in the attacks, and 36-year-old Rachel North, who survived the blast on the Piccadilly Line train.
She said they had been misled by the Government.
“A year ago we were being told that the bombers were clean skins, coming out of the blue,” she said.
“It is quite apparent now that they were not. Here we stand with so many questions still unanswered, driven by our desire to save lives by finding out the truth.”
The Prime Minister yesterday led resistance to an inquiry.
He told GMTV: “The problem if you have an independent public inquiry into something like this is you will divert all their energy and attention into trying to answer the questions that come up in the inquiry.”
A Home Office spokesman said Mr Reid understood the feelings of those affected by the blasts and promised to consider their plea.