Thursday, May 24, 2007

London Assembly calls for independent 7/7 inquiry.

The London Assembly today supported a motion calling for an urgent independent inquiry into what information security services had available to them in the lead up to the terrorist atrocities on London’s transport network on 7 July 2005.
The full text of the motion reads as follows:
This Assembly recognises that the conviction and subsequent sentencing of Omar Khyam, Waheed Mahmood, Jawad Akbar, Salahuddin Amin and Anthony Garcia on 30th April 2007 has led to intense media coverage of links between this group of terrorists intent on causing massive loss of life and those who carried out the suicide bombings of 7th July 2005.

Given the conflicting accounts of what happened in the months leading up to 7th July 2005, this Assembly fully endorses calls for an independent inquiry to be conducted as a matter of urgency to ensure that public confidence is retained within the security services who continue to protect the interests of London and Londoners.’

Richard Barnes AM, who proposed the motion said: “As well as those who lost family, and those who survived, all the communities of London deserve answers about how an atrocity as terrible as the 7 July bombings was able to occur right on our doorstep.''
“We have a right to know that our security services have the resources they need, that those resources are being deployed properly, and that the various agencies involved in keeping London safe are talking to each other effectively.“This is not a call to make sensitive operational details public, it is a call for a structured independent inquiry in order to reassure Londoners that security services are acting wholly and totally to our benefit.”

Notes to Editors:
1. The motion calling for an independent inquiry was carried by a majority of 15 votes.
2. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

The London Assembly held the 7 July Review chaired by Richard Barnes. It remains, to date, the only public examination of some of the facts pertaining to the events of 7/7, interviewing survivors, members of the emergency services and others involved in responding to the attacks such as mobile telephone operators. The Committee's findings praised the work of the emergency services, but painted a worrying picture of the chaos after the carnage, and advised a series of recommendations to improve London's response to terror or disaster.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Bruno said...

It is very slightly tangential, but I'm intrigued by the news treatment of the attacks on 7 July itself and I wonder if you have any perspective on this.

In the early afternoon of 7 July (when a friend rang me in a panic to ask where I was) the reports were that there had been 7 bombs. That got reduced to 4 a bit later, when reporters realised that "4 bombs, 3 on the tube" did not mean "4+3" but "4, including 3". That's understandable in the heat of the moment.

On the Friday and the Saturday, the news was that the bombs had exploded at intervals over a longish period, about an hour. Either the Times or the Telegraph had a double-page spread with a big map of London and each explosion marked, all with widely spaced times. (Neither the online nor the CDROM archives show page layouts, and I haven't managed to go to the library to locate the actual paper yet).

By Sunday, all the bombs had become simultaneous (except for the bus one) and they've remained simultaneous ever since.

How can the news media be so slow to give accurate reports? Were they passively rewriting press releases?? I would have thought that with the number of mobile phones, email connections, blogs and all the rest, people involved in the incidents would know when they happened and know if the reported times were wrong. Did the newspapers just not listen to them? And why did they not report the change in timing? Were they too embarrassed?

May 24, 2007 3:01 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

As far as I understand it...

When the bombs went off, on the tubes, it wasn't widely known that they were bombs. You pretty much had to be in a carriage with the bomb to know, see the dmaage, and even then, people didn't work it out at once. You don't expect to be bombed on a train, after all, and so when people came out describing smoke, bang, screams, lights going out and so on, it was assumed that it was some kind of horrible electrical accident, or a derailment. On the Piccadilly line, as it was so deep and dark, when the bomb went off it was impossible to see anything for several minutes. Even people in the next carriage on my train did not necessarily realise it was a bomb. They heard a bang, smelled smoke, but many thought it was an electrical fire, or a train derailment, or a partial tunnel collapse.

Meanwhile staff at the stations monitoring the progress of trains on screens only saw the power had cut out. That was in some cases because the explosions broke the connections with the track, which when you are watching on screen looks like a power surge or electrical fault. Well, that would be the most likely guessed explanation anyway - not a bomb inside the train.

It wasn't until frightened people escaped and made their way out of the carriages and down the tracks - and you can't open carriage doors when a train stops, you have to exit through the front and rear of the train only - and raised the alarm that other people started to understand that it was a bomb. This was ascertained by the blast injuries survivors had.

I guess, I found from talking to people afterwards, that the passengers' nearest to the bomb's first needs and thoughts were of reaching safety, surviving, getting their injuries treated, calling loved ones and so on. The media started to get reports of ambulances and fire engines being called to stations by station staff and passers by reporting shocked/sooty walking wounded - then more seriously injured - being carried out of the station, coming down the tracks.

In all th econfusion, I suppose the media were at first reliant on shocked passengers trying to tell them the time of the explosions, station staff saying when they raised the alarm, and ambulance control desks explaining when they got the calls.

Later, it was possible to look at the exact time that the electrical problem hit the tracks, recorded on Trackernet ( which is a screen showing representative images of trains moving round the system)it was easier to see that the bombs had hit near-simultaneously. But because it took longer to escape from some trains than others, the passengers did not escape simultaneously, and I suppose that is how, in the first hour, they thought the bombs were staggered, not simultaneous.

May 24, 2007 3:45 pm  

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