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London bomb survivors begin legal fight for inquiry

Reuters | August 30, 2007
Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - Survivors and relatives of those killed in the London bombings of July 7, 2005, began legal action on Thursday to force the British government to hold an independent inquiry into the capital's worst peacetime attacks.

The group argues official accounts of the suicide bombings on London's transport system carried out by four young British Islamists have been insufficient, inaccurate and misleading.

Fifty two commuters died in the attacks.

The 7/7 inquiry group, made up of bereaved relatives and those who escaped the bombings, says the refusal to hold a public inquiry breaches the European Convention on Human Rights and intends to seek a judicial review of that decision.

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Lawyers for the group said the papers were being served at the High Court on Thursday.

"Firstly we say that the decision of the former Home Secretary (interior minister) not to order an inquiry was irrational," Cliff Tibber, head of litigation at Oury Clark, told Reuters.

"Secondly there is a positive duty under article 2 of the Human Rights Act in these circumstances to order an inquiry." The first hearing at the High Court is unlikely to take place until October.

The government has rejected demands for an independent review of the bombings, which opposition politicians have also called for. It says an inquiry would distract stretched security services when Britain is at serious risk of attack.

"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 earlier this month.

VITAL QUESTIONS

Britain is 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.

The 7/7 inquiry group says there are vital unanswered questions that need to be addressed, particularly how much the authorities knew about two of the bombers, ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, before the attacks.

They 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 fertilizer-based bombs.

The government said in the aftermath of the July 7 strikes that all the bombers were "clean skins" who had not previously crossed the authorities' radar.

The group says that means an inquiry is needed to determine whether the government had failed in its duty to protect life.

"We would very much like answers to the questions we have raised. We don't understand why we haven't received them," Jacqui Putnam, who was on board the train blown up by Khan, told Reuters.

 

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