No justice, no truth...yet
I respect the jury's decision, and having watched much of this trial the first time around, it was clear that this was always a circumstantial case and a hard one to build. The police have done an enormous amount of work in investigating this matter, for which they are to be congratulated and it was only during this trial that some of their work could be shown in public for the first time. I am sure many police have felt just as frustrated as I have, knowing that much of their discoveries could not be shown until this trial was over.
Chilling personal videos made by Mohammed Siddique Khan as he said goodbye to his baby daughter, in front of Tanweer and Hussein, his fellow bombers, before he set off to Pakistan. Film footage of the bombers driving in their car, then the men caught on CCTV at Luton station, teenage suicide bomber Hasib Hussein at King's Cross, entering shops, and then walking through the streets of London, on his way to catch a bus, then another bus, which he bombed, less than an hour after his three friends had set off their bombs on three tube trains. Details of the mixes used for the explosions. There is so much we now know about that day, yet so many questions remain.
52 families still wait for inquests, four years on. All of us wait for M15's watchdog, the Intelligence and Security Committee to publish their second report into 7/7 - their first one, published in May 2006 had the bombers as 'not named or listed' as terrorists likely to attack the UK, and only 'on the periphery' of another investigation, petty fraudsters, not threats to the UK. It seems that the security service thought of Mohammed Siddique and his friends as men planning to kill themselves (and presumably British troops in Afghanistan) - but not on their patch, not in the UK. If that was what they thought then, how wrong they were.
And yet from this trial, and the Operation Crevice fertiliser bomb trial in May 2007, we now know that the 7/7 bombers were very far indeed from being the 'clean skins' who 'came out of the blue' which is how they were described by the then-Home Secretary Charles Clarke (who was presumably briefed thus by the security service and police he presided over at the time).
We now know that the lead bomber, Mohammed Siddique Khan, was followed home by M15 in a car registered to his wife, to his home, where he lived, at least twice. He was filmed and photographed on several other occasions, taped talking about jihad, his plans for 'ripping the country apart economically as well', before going on a 'one-way' mission. He was bugged having meetings with terrorists weeks away from planning to detonate a huge fertiliser bomb. He was known to have committed a GBP 20,ooo fraud against Jewsons, a British company. He was no unknown: he should have been flagging code red, with his history of attending terrorist training camps, his terrorist friends, his plans for economic criminality and one-way tickets to jihadi missions. Especially as by then, it was known that UK men were training abroad and then going on suicide missions, and that some UK men, trained abroad, were returning to their homeland and planning to bomb the UK. They knew all that, the security service. The police had even undergone Operation Kratos training to kill suicide bombers on the UK's streets. So yes, whether MSK could have been arrested prior to 7/7 is painful to contemplate.
They knew who he was, I am sure of it - if I had your car registration number and followed you to your home, I could find out your name, and I am not a security service officer - they knew what he was, who his friends were - yet he was seen as a 'desirable' but not essential target and he was not arrested, though time and time again there were chances to do just that. How is it possible for M15 to say to the ISC in 2005 that he was 'not named or listed' as a threat? How it is possible for the Intelligence and Security Committee not to have known that there were tapes and footage of this man, with these Operation Crevice terrorists, known to be planning these attacks at that stage, when he had been photographed and filmed and bugged - I am looking at the film of him now, walking about in London with his terrorist friends who were later jailed for 40 years? How is it right that nine months after the second ISC report examining what should have been picked up the first time, it is still sitting in Number 10, with no word as to the date it will be released? How is it fair that four years on, the families and survivors are still waiting for answers to these terrible questions: could the bombers have been stopped? Did communication and intelligence fail? And have the lessons been learned that will stop the wrong men being arrested and the right men slipping through the cracks? The recent arrests and release of Pakistani students in Manchester and Liverpool raise worrying questions in this regard - four years after the bombings.
No, there will never be justice in the matter of the London bombings of 2005, because the four men who bombed London chose to never face a judge or jury, but to deliberately kill themselves by their own hand, on a day of their own choosing: I saw film of them going to their deaths; they looked determined, even happy as they walked, shouldering their heavy rucksacks of home-made explosive mixtures. It was devastating.
So there will never be justice, but there can be the other thing so badly wanted and needed by the victims; the truth to be told, and the best way for that to happen - for the complex picture of what was known, by whom and when, what decisions were made, such as deciding not to prioritise the men who became the 7/7 bombers as investigative targets and so on - is to have an independent inquiry.
An inquiry independent of the government and the security services and the police, with the power to compel and cross examine witnesses, go through evidence in detail, and write a report and recommendations which will be acted upon and so, we hope, save lives and spare suffering in future. This is what we have asked for, for over three years now. We have been prevented from having one because of the legal processes - the trials that have followed 7/7, as a result of which some men have been jailed for planning terror offences and others have been acquitted. Now those trials are completed, we are still waiting.
The families still wait for inquests - unsure still when they will happen and whether they will be held in secret or not - under the terms of the Coroners and Justice Bill legislation.
The survivors and families wait - along with the British public - for the ISC report, to see if this time it answers our questions about what was known about the bombers before they struck. And all of us wait, not for justice, nor for 'closure' - this is not therapy, this is thankless hard and sad work, especially today, when it is my wedding anniversary and I have cancelled the celebrations to go and talk about this yet again on the news and Newsnight - but I wait, we wait for the truth to finally be told, in the hope that, one day soon, it will.
And in being told, we hope the truth will help to prevent another summer morning of screaming and smoke and sirens, and the terrible loss of innocent travellers who never come home.