Sunday, July 02, 2006

Danny Biddle update

Picture (c) Mail on Sunday.
Danny Biddle is finally out of hospital, almost a year after Mohammed Siddique Khan looked at him, from where he was sitting on the other side of a plastic screen, as Danny stood,
leaning against the perspex screen by the double doors - standing, as always, and people-watching. “I looked around. This Asian guy got on and walked down the carriage. He sat down just past me on the other side of the screen.” He was “sitting with a rucksack over his shoulders and a main bag in his lap over his chest”. Danny watched him look at his wrists several times - as if checking the time. “When he first put his hand in the bag my first thought was medication, or he’s getting something to eat, or he’s a diabetic, whatever. As the train pulled out of Edgware Road station, he put his hand back in the bag, lifted his head and looked up and then there was light like a thousand camera flashes going off. And, when I think about it, where he sat down was where there was the biggest congregation of people.” ( Financial Times)

Dannyis exhausted, having gone hell for leather over the last few weeks to get walking practice on his new prosthetic legs so he can finally leave the hospital room he has been staying in for the last 51 weeks and go home. The heat doesn't help. Nor the crappy England performance. Tomorrow he was going to an interview on GMTV, where he had hoped to speak with a representative of the Home Office. He has not yet had any contact with anyone from the Home Office or Tessa Jowell's department, despite speaking out in exasperation about it to the media over the last few days.

But no politician agreed to come in and talk to Danny, not in hospital, not at home, not on GMTV. Not Dr. Reid, not Tessa Jowell, not anybody from their offices. GMTV asked 'weeks ago', but no dice. Danny is furious. ''If they're not going to bother to turn up, there's no point me struggling in. I can't believe how spineless they are. After all I have gone through, losing both legs above the knee, my eye, my hearing in one ear, my spleen, having a heart attack, and they can't find someone to come and talk to me. For ten minutes. After 51 weeks of waiting''.

I can't believe it either. We talked for fifteen minutes, caught up on how everything was going. Then Danny asked me if I would go and do the GMTV interview, in his place. I'm supposed to be resting, I'm signed off work, but hell, yes, of course I will. This is too important not to. And Danny will do a phone interview from his bed at home, so he can say what he wants without having to go into London, something that still makes him shudder

So tomorrow we will say what others have spent a whole year saying: there needs to be a proper inquiry into the first suicide bombing in Europe. The Government's two pamphlets, published in May 2006, are inconsistent and full of holes, and ask more questions than they answer. The London Assembly report, with a limited remit and resources turned up stacks of stuff that had not been revealed by the official report. So what will a proper inquiry find out? Stuff that when acted upon will save lives and spare suffering, I hope.

I hope. I always hope. And so does Danny, home at last after a long year of suffering in silence, but in many ways, still waiting close to the smoking wreckage of the suicide-bombed carriage, still in pain, still hoping for answers.

The campaign for a proper inquiry is here, signed by Danny and other survivors and bereaved families and members of the public.


Blogger Em said...

You'll do a great job tomorrow Rachel.

Your indomitable courage and passion for justice will have an impact.

Maybe at last you'll be able to pass on the baton too.

July 02, 2006 7:04 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have suffered the unkindest cut of all! My comment of yesterday was banned because it upset our hostess, so, suitably admonished I will try again.

Our hostess insists that a public enquiry is required on the grounds that 'lessons will be learned'. My questions are:

What lessons will be learned by over-worked security officers that they haven't already learned?

What good will it do for Rachel, Danny and the other 'civilians' to learn these lessons - I mean - what will actually be achieved thereby?

If the enquiry is *public* what lessons will be learned by our enemies?

If because of the above, the enquiry is partially 'in camera' will our hostess and her supporters accept the result, or will they insist that yet another enquiry is held?

Is it sensible that senior security officers already engaged with the enemy on a day-to-day basis and with a service that is severely over-stretched, be taken off duty to respond to yet another enquiry?

I say again what I suggested on another site, that Rachel is free to organise politically a campaign to change the policy in respect to terrorism, that is part of the cut and thrust of our system. However, what I *suspect* is that she is agitating for an enquiry in order to press her own particular views on how the so-called 'war on terror' should be conducted.

Finally, and sorry because I know what I am about to write will upset some of you raised in this 'Oprah Winfrey' society, but why should Danny Biddle expect *anyone*, let alone busy ministers with better and more important matters to deal with, come and speak to him? Why? What good will it do him? What good will it do them? Do you think Churchill went round spending "ten minutes" with everyone who was injured during the war?

There, you see, when I try really hard I can be quite nice and polite.

July 03, 2006 8:01 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Duff asks what use is a public enquiry. As a 'civilian' survivor who was 15 - 20 feet from the Aldgate bomb and whose peace of mind has been shattered, I would very much like answers to the hundreds of questions I have. Not one of them is 'why me' and all of them are without a political agenda. I don't care whether the public enquiry is instigated by this or a future government, just so long as it happens. I don't mind waiting. My pre-7/7 life is a distant memory. I live everyday with the memory of what I experienced and witnessed on that day.

Rachel, you speak for me and others like me who aren't brave enough to raise our heads above the parapet and deal with the media and people like David Duff.

All I can say to you David Duff is we live in a democracy and you are free to express your opinion but don't try and judge the views and opinions of those of us who were there in those bombed trains on 7/7.

July 03, 2006 9:26 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

1.'Over-worked security officers' have had their hands tied, it seems, by the politicalisation of intelligence. ( remember the dodgy dossier, anyone?) For example, Islamic extremists ( the so -called 'hate preachers and groups like Al-Mujaharoun were tolerated for many years, perhaps because they were deemed useful to British interests in the Balkans, perhaps because of fears of racism, perhaops because they were thought useful to monitor to keep an eye on 'hotheads'. The 'Covenant of Security' meant that security forces expected that whilst they might recruit young men to fight abroad, they woudl not bring 'holy war' to British soil. Basically, a policy of official appeasement, even though Muslims and foreign security services warned that they preached the laws and incited racial hatred, and treason and murder. That covenant was deemed 'broken' by extremist clerics with the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. But politics meant that leads could not be followed up, and although laws had been broken by the likes of Hamza, they were never arrested, despite tons of evidence to prove criminal intent. Secondly, the ISC report clearly stated that the communication between agencies ( M15, M16 and the police) needed to improve. It is clear from new information coming out that some of the bombers were known to the police and security services, and also seemed to have had links with other terror groups. An iT technician has also told of trying to alert Special Branch to th e activities of Khan's group in 2003. Had communication been better, and information shared, it seems likely that the bombers would have been apprehended before executing their plan. Today we hear of how M15 are investigating over 8000 radicals. Too late to save 52 lives, they have woken up to what foreign intelligence services and Muslim leaders have warned of for years. Thirdly, because the Government cannot admit that the war in Iraq has garnered support for extremism, made Britons less safe ( Blair invaded claiming Saddam had WOMD which he could deploy against British people) they are unable to tackle this causal link between foreign policy and increased extremism. Many Muslims who abhor terrorism are still angry at the illegal war, as are huge swathes of the UK public. Polls showed the public made a link between the disastrous middle east policy, and the London bombings, and an increased terror threat. Thus, Blair's 'war on terror' has arguably made us all more at risk. This is however not a reason to prevent the security services from doing their job properly, and working with the police more effectively to stop monstrous crimes being planned and executed. Even if making the link between the way he conducted the Iraq war, in defiance of international law, is uncomfortable for Blair, none the less, if he has the courage of his convictions, he should be able to defend why his actions were still right, even if 7/7 was the blowback, and even if our foreign policy continues to place us at risk of even more attacks. The fact that he won't even have the debate is deeply troubling - British lives are at stake. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of lives lost and people hurt in Iraq, in an increasingly brutal, chaotic and unpopular war. There was no terrorism in Iraq before the invasion: there is now. And its idealogy is being exported home to roost.

2.What good will it do for us who were blown up? Not much, but it will enable us to know that something positive came from our experience - that we were the catayst for changes that we hope will save lives in the future. We do not want what happened to us to happen to others.

3.Our enemies can make bombs in bathtubs and move amongst us easily. The detail of a public inquiry is unlikely to change their M.O. However, since many Muslims , including the Muslim Council of GB and the Muslim Parliament are calling for a public inquiry, and we know a sense of anger and frustration at not being heard provides fuel for radicalisation, engaging with the issues raised in a public inquiry or independent inquiry would do much to drain the swamp in which bitterness and anger thrives. Which is one of the keys to winning hearts and minds and preventing radicalisation by taking away the causes & claims it makes. It won't stop those nihilistically committed to mass murder. But it will make it more difficult for their cause to find favour.And the idea that the Governemtn should be called to accoutn is a natural and normal reaction: their first duty is protecting the public and maintaining our freedoms. Since they are willing to pass all kinds of legislation in response ot the deemed level of threat, it is reasonable to ask them to justify it by having an inquiry into the last example of terror, to show that they are committed to preventing it. It will cost less than ID cards and it should prove that Blair's policies are successful and bear robust analysis. If you have nothing to hide, you had nothing to fear, we are told by a State that wants all our data, DNA and details information to be owned by the State. And yet they won't answer questins about why the threat is so high we need to taje such drastic steps. Unconvincing,and damaging to the Government. They should be able to defend their actions and answer questions honestly. We pay their wages after all, and a little embarrassment is something they should be able to cope with. Unlike Danny, they still have their jobs, their pensions and all their limbs.

4. If you have ever read anything I wrote, or heard anythign I have said publicly, I have said that it is understood that parts of the inquiry must be held out of public gaze in order not to prejudice trials or ongoing investyigations. They should however, be conducted by a panel of people wholly *independent* of the Govt., with the power to cross examine and make recommendations, having first signed the official secrets act. They should not be, as the ISC are, a party of hand-picked MPS appointed by Blair, with limited powers to call evidence form spooks.

5. Yes, because what can be more important than keeping the trust of the public, and learning lessons that will save lives? Opening up the issues of tactics, strategy, communication to questioing will discover whether they are doing things right or could be imporved. The security services are secretive, but they are also resistant to change, and this is not the Cold War, this is not the IRA campaign. There IS much they could learn - forcing them to stop having fiefdoms and to communicate with Special branch intelligence, for example, only statred to happen because their systems were found to be flawed after 7/7. The Americans managed to hold the 9/11 commission whilst fighting a war on terror and a war in Iraq. They are arguably a greater target than us, with a lot more ground to cover. If they can do it, why can;'t we? A full public, 'Bloody Sunday' inquiry isn't the best way forward - probably - but it is a starting point for negitiations. A smart, independent inquiry, conduicted by a panel of independent legal, security etc experts - is.

6. You can suspect what you like, but I would ask for this whoever was in power, and I ask you to rmember that I am natural Labour supporter. This is above politics, this is about the much wider issue of liberty and security freedom and fear. It is not about blame, it is about saving lives. And trying to engage with the issue of how safe we are, and what we can do to deal with the problem of confronting an idealogy when our tactics used seem to make the idealogy spread faster, grow stronger, and increase the risks to us all.

7. Danny is angry because he has been left to struggle with a complex and inadequate compensation process, endless fighting to get simple things like the right kind of prosthetics, doors big enough to get a wheelchair though, and nobody from Govt. has ever been in contact with him, the most seriously injured surviuvor. That woudl be ok, perhaos, if the Governemtn hadn't spent a great deal wof time saying their thoughts were witht he victims, claiming to have talked to victims when they haven't, and declared their determination to have dialogue when they have not even erturned Danny's calls. Using victims for political purposes when yuou have not even bothered to meet them is crass. The PM of Australia flew over to meet an Australian badly injured in 7/7, and wept as he kissed her cheek. In private. The Turkish PM came to see another survivor who lost an eye. Prince Charles invited Danny and others badly hurt and bereaved families to his home. Meanwhile, Blair goes on and on about victims, as do Reid and Jowell, and yet Danny, when he calls to ask if he might speak to the Home Secretary, since he cannot come to London, is told 'Dr Reid is a busy man'.

Not good enough.

July 03, 2006 9:53 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hi Melo,

Thank you for your comment. I hope this week passes without too much impact on your health; it is tough at the moment for usd all.

I really appreciate your support, and send you mine back. It's not political, and it is not a blame game. It is because I honestly think that it is the righht thing to do, not just for survviors, but for everyone who walks the streets and rides the buses and trains, in the front line.

Thank you.

July 03, 2006 10:02 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does not surprise me in the least to hear that New Labour traitors refuse to meet the victims of their criminal aggression. While your calls for a public inquiry are laudable, I don't think it will accomplish anything.

The fact that the security services were aware of Khan's activities makes me very suspicious. A government that will lie and lie and lie to garner support for aggressive war is a government that would allow terrorist attacks to proceed in order to garner support for more aggressive war and for the total annihilation of civil rights. What drives young men to commit such actions? Aggressive war. You don't need an inquiry to figure that out.

July 03, 2006 11:09 am  
Blogger septicisle said...

The likes of David Duff are the same people who get us into this mess in the first place. The only argument now being made against an independent inquiry is that it'll be "too expensive" - an absolute indictment of this government, that thinks nothing of spending billions on joining the war in Iraq for no reason other than to support George Bush, billions on ID cards which will fail like every other database scheme has, and now billions to spent replacing Trident. I absolutely despair.

July 03, 2006 6:17 pm  
Blogger Dr. Deb said...

Unbelievable that the year anniversary is here.

July 04, 2006 1:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But politics meant that leads could not be followed up, and although laws had been broken by the likes of Hamza, they were never arrested, despite tons of evidence to prove criminal intent."
Whose politics - yours. Those of the liberal establishment. You are intent on blaming the bombings on Iraq instead of confronting the real nature of militant Islam, and the nightmare you liberals have created in the UK.
Yes David, your hostess is quick to ban anything she disagrees with. So much for the free and open debate she craves (when it suits her agenda).

July 04, 2006 5:33 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Anon, Duff was answered at great length and politely, however, his personal abuse was not published, instead I took the time to respond and ask him to resubmit without being personally abusive. Then I replied in great detail.

You, I note, have not even read the post properly, and published anonymously.

Nonetheless , you *are* published and other readers can judge you. I fear you will fare badly in their estimations in comparison to the subject of the post, Danny.

I will leave you up here, however, as you, unlike Duff, have not actually resorted to personal abuse. Yet.

Let the readers be the judge. I wonder if next time you will feel able to a) leave your name, b) actually contribute to the discussion?

Everyone gets a second chance, so let us see, shall we?

I am considering blocking anonymous comments though, as I find most of them to be puerile trolls, and those who disagree under their own name to be far more worthy of serious debate.

Anyone can write 'F*CK YOU' on a wall, after all, even the most simple minded, if given an aerosol & nobody to see them. Graffitti however is not argument.

July 04, 2006 11:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the record my name is Jon, I have lived for many years in the Middle East and I can't be bothered to sign up. I don't know why you mention personal abuse, I never use that unless it is used on me. I think some of your insinuations were tanamount to that. Anyway,I must take issue with your comment:
"groups like Al-Mujaharoun were tolerated for many years, perhaps because they were deemed useful to British interests in the Balkans"
Perhaps you would care to explain just how? I don't ever recall those being a british colony or it being part of the oil/power conspiracy. Perhaps so we can relocoate what is left of our industrial base there? If you want to be taken seriously I suggest you stop making throwaway statements like that. I DO feel really sorry for Danny. I also feel really sorry for those maimed in the 1998 car bomb explosions at the United States embassies in the African cities of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya, and Beslan, who have probably never received any help. What do you blame those bombings on? The 'unqualified support' those countries gave the US?? I would urge anybody to vist the site and consider helping (if this gets published).

July 06, 2006 1:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author. !

I would like to state ,I live in Australia and I was horrified when I saw the London bombings on our tv sets. I am also horrified at the bombings I see in Iraq. However it seems the western life appears to have more value than those of our Iraqi brothers and sisters. The outrage and the call for inquiries are not repeated for the inocent victims of Iraq.
The bottem line is, Bush, Blair and Howard are the true warmongers who insisted with this war and have not even had the courage to pull out when we all know the liberation of Iraq is a farce and thousands of innocent women, childen,men will be be maimed or killed in vain because of the vanity of the triad of leaders supposedly of the Free World. 3000 US lives wasted 200? plus UK lives wasted.

......The blog author these are the facts whether you approve or not ,the fact, the comments have to be approved by an overseer makes this a questionable blog!

July 07, 2006 7:15 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS Thinking about how I could help Danny there is a fund for survivors. It would be good if you posted a link to it or even put it in your blog. I will be making a donation, so tx for providing the spur! I assume it is OK and is helping people, it looks OK.
Jon anon

July 07, 2006 5:02 pm  

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