Sunday, February 19, 2006

Palace apology to bomb victims

Come on Tessa Jowell. Sort it out.

The 7th July Review Committee meeting scheduled for next month will focus on the testimony of survivors and bereaved. Afterwards, a transcript and report and recommendations will be made, and studied, and I am told 'responded to' by the Cabinet. And the Home office and the DCMS, too, I hope.

We are not getting a public enquiry, it seems, and we still await the promised 'narrative of events' - and have not even heard when we will be getting that.

Well, the 7th July Review Committee meeting is something, but it has no teeth.

I hope as many survivors and families as possible get the chance to tell their stories, and I hope people listen, especially people who work for the Government. I think as many individual voices as possible should be heard, saying whatever they want and need to say, in writing or in person, in public or in private to the Committee, anonymously or not.

I will certainly be giving my testimony and I hope that it does some good and that lessons are learned and improvements made for when the next disaster happens.

I have already written about the July 7th questions that haunt victims in the Sunday Times

I have asked many times for an independent and public enquiry.

I have said why I do not think that the Government are very keen to have one.

There is a petition here signed by myself and other survivors and anyone can sign it, who would like their questions answered.

Over to David Leppard in today's Sunday Times on the bungles and Palace apologies...

'Palace apology to bomb victims by David Leppard

BUCKINGHAM PALACE has expressed sympathy with the families of 11 Britons murdered last year by terrorists in Egypt after they complained they had been abandoned and ignored by the government. The Queen failed to send letters of condolence because of bungles by officials working for Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, whose department has special responsibility for victims of disasters.

In unusually frank language, the palace wrote that it had been told by Jowell’s office that she “took the omission very seriously” and was determined that other tragedies would be “managed better in future”.

The letter was sent from Sandringham House, the Queen’s winter residence, to a relative of one of those killed last July by Al-Qaeda suicide bombers at Sharm el-Sheikh, the resort on the Red Sea. It said there had been similar complaints from families affected by July’s London bombs.
Edward Young, the Queen’s assistant private secretary, wrote: “I am sorry not to have responded earlier, and may I begin by offering you my deepest sympathy for the loss that you have suffered.”
He continued:
I am also sorry that you feel you have not received the support from government that you would expect to at such a dreadful time.”

Young added: “I understand from the secretary of state’s office that families affected by incidents in both London and Sharm el-Sheikh have made strong representations about improving government communications with those most affected and that the secretary of state is determined that this has to be managed better in the future.”

His letter was addressed to Trevor Lakin, whose son Jeremy, 28, died at Sharm el-Sheikh. Lakin had complained to the Palace after discovering that since March last year Jowell’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has had formal responsibility for advising the royal family when it should write letters of condolence after natural disasters and terrorist outrages.
The families of the 22 Britons who died in the Bali attacks in 2002 all received personal letters of condolence from the Prince of Wales.
The Queen has yet to write to the families of the Sharm el-Sheikh victims expressing her formal condolences but Lakin said the letter from her private office provided some comfort. “This is as close to an apology as we are likely to get,” he said.
It is not the first time ministers and officials involved in dealing with the Egypt attacks have bungled. In December, Paul Sizeland, the director of consular services at the Foreign Office, apologised after Whitehall failed to pass on a letter from the Egyptian government offering to provide the victims’ families with full support.

Yasmin Waljee, a solicitor at Lovells, who is representing some of the victims of the London and Sharm el-Sheikh bombings, said ministers had been “completely inert” in dealing with their grievances.

She said the Home Office had suggested the families take legal action against the perpetrators of the attacks. “It’s a little crass to suggest the families try to sue Al-Qaeda. Are we supposed to hunt down Osama Bin Laden in his cave in Afghanistan and serve a writ on him?” Rachel North, who was injured in the London bombs, yesterday joined the criticism of the DCMS. “They need to improve victim’s aftercare,” she said.
The Foreign Office has also been censured in a report by the National Audit Office for its response to the needs of the survivors and the relatives of the 144 Britons who died in the tsunami on Boxing Day, 2004.'


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The suggetion about financial claims against the bombers is actually interesting - there are quite a few rich Saudis who gave money to "charities" some of which have been directly linked to terrorism. Civil damages are unlimited in this case. Unlimited.

This would be legal, civilised and hurt the terrorists backers badly.

The Anon

February 20, 2006 9:35 am  
Blogger TheTruthMan said...


regarding the date of publication of the alleged narrative of events promised to us by the trustworthy Tony Blair, why don't you and/or the 7th July Review Committee write to him, or the Home Office, requesting a date of publication, and if an exact date cannot be given then request a proposed date of publication.

One of my first thoughts after 7/7, even on the day, was civil action against the alleged bombers, because I knew there would be no inquiry and the only way that evidence would be revealed in public would be through a civil action in which the claimant would have to prove the defendants were guilty, and that the evidence told to us could be subpoeaned. However I was not directly affected by the events of 7/7, but if I were I would definitely be considering such action.

February 20, 2006 10:34 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Interesting idea, but I haven't got the resources ( time, money, energy) to launch a civil action, and the perpetrators are dead so there seems little point. i don't want to go after the bombers families; they are victims too.

February 21, 2006 11:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's something a bit suspect about Buckingham Palace blaming the government for not advising them who to write. Do the Queen and her advisers not think for themselves? Why wasn't the Queen asking herself why she hadn't signed any letters to those involved? Maybe there were cock-ups in Tessa Jowell's office, but did the Palace really need to wait to be told?

February 24, 2006 9:58 am  

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