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Blair denies MI5 failures and rejects call for 7/7 inquiry

UK Daily Mail | May 02, 2007 

Tony Blair today ruled out demands for a new inquiry into the July 7 bombings, denying claims that MI5 overlooked crucial evidence which could have prevented the attacks

In the Commons, the Prime Minister said a fresh inquiry would be a "mistake" and would undermine support for the security services in the fight against terrorism.

His comments came amid reports that MI5 did not show surveillance photographs of the bombers' ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan to the original inquiry by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).

The BBC reported that although MI5 had six photographs of Khan taken during the investigation of another terror plot, only one was shown to the ISC.

Whitehall sources said today that while the committee did not see the photographs, it was told that they existed.

"The reason they were not shown them is because it didn't add to the facts. If they had felt the need to ask to see them, they would have asked," one source said.

The sources said the ISC was given only one photograph of Khan as it was the one used to show to a detainee to see if he could identify the man in the picture.

They strongly denied suggestions that the other photographs were withheld from the ISC because they were taken by police rather than MI5.

At Prime Minister's questions, Mr Blair insisted that the ISC was shown all the relevant material.

The committee, chaired by former Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy, is to look at the evidence again in the wake of the disclosures in the fertiliser bomb plot trial which ended this week at the Old Bailey with the convictions of five defendants.

It emerged that Khan and his right-hand man Shehzad Tanweer were recorded by surveillance teams on several occasions with the ringleader of the fertiliser bomb plot, Omar Khyam.

Although Khan was heard discussing the prospect of going to Pakistan to fight with the militias, neither man was identified until after the July 7 bombings in London more than a year later.

In the Commons, Tory leader David Cameron said that a "proper, independent inquiry" was now needed to "enhance public confidence" in the fight against terrorism.

He said the ISC, which is appointed by the Prime Minister and is made up of senior parliamentarians, lacked the necessary investigative powers to do the job.

However, Mr Blair said that a new inquiry would divert resources away from the fight against terrorism.

"It would be wrong to say that in some way or other they (the ISC) didn't have the information they wanted. Any information they want to have, they can," he said.

"If we end up now saying that the Intelligence and Security Committee was not an adequate inquiry, we have another inquiry, we will simply cause great anxiety and difficulty within the service.

"We won't get any more truth, because the truth is there in the intelligence and Security Committee, but what we will do is undermine support for our security services and I am simply not prepared to do it."

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