Saturday, September 02, 2006

The 7/7 CCTV question

Many self-styled ''July 7th Truth campaigners'' have a particular question that they raise again and again, and it is a reasonable question to ask, though extrapolating from it that nothing we have been told about July 7th is true is about a thousands steps too far into a murky world that I find barely recognisable and hope never to inhabit. The question is: why has more CCTV footage of the 7/7 bombers not been shown? The media often play the tape of them going through tube ticket barriers but that is not from July 7th, it is from the ''practice run'' three of them did earlier. The only picture that has been released of them on the day is the famous shot of them wearing their rucksacks at Luton station.

Over the last few months, survivors and bereaved have had a series of meetings with the Home Secretary, John Reid, Tessa Jowell, (who has ''particular responsibility for victims'') and various other key people such as the Chief Executive of C.I.C.A, senior police officials, representatives from the Home Office who liase with security services and others. These have been frustrating on occasion, but also helpful. (They are not, of course, a substitute for an independent inquiry and a public debate about the causes of, risks from, and strategy to deal with homegrown UK Islamic terrorism. )

On August 24th I received a 15 page document put together as a result of several of these meetings, which included a long speech by Dr. Reid to RUSI on 3rd April 2006 (made by him when he was Defence Secretary), setting out his thoughts on terror. There's also a spreadsheet of follow-up actions taken following questions raised at the meetings, and a 4 page letter from Dr. Reid in which he gives written answers to some, not all, of the questions that were raised over the period of consultation.

The letter covers the Public Inquiry, Police Action, The Official Account, Passenger Liability Insurance, Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, Support by Employers - Good Practice, Media Speculation and Additional Material...and a point raised by myself and several others about the CCTV footage.

I reproduce the answer given to that question in full.

''CCTV footage
A number of people questioned why there was a very limited amount of footage of the bombers released to the media. The Metropolitan Police have told us that the primary reason for this is that the footage forms part of the police evidence. Their practice is to limit the release of footage to that which is pertinent to progressing their investigation. In deciding what to release, the police need to take into account that any footage could potentially [ underlined] prejudice any prosecutions that result from the on-going police investigation.''

I will also reproduce in full what was written under the heading The Official Account.

''Notwithstanding my conclusions about a public inquiry, I do fully understand how important it is for you to have as much information as possible surrounding the tragic events of last July. That is partly why I undertook the series of meetings with Tessa and why I have given an undertaking that should any new information come to light, I will make it public. In that context I am mentioning again that there was an error in the Official Account which was published on 11 May 2006. This related to the time the train left Luton station with the four bombers aboard. I enclose a copy of the relevant extract of the statement that I made to the House of Commons when I opened the debate on the ISC Annual Report.

Those who attended the Edgware Road meeting believed that there was a possibility of a second error in the Official Account. They said that Mohammed Sidique Khan was by the second set of double doors in the tube carriage at the time of the attack, whereas the Official Account states that Khan was ''most likely near the standing area by the first set of double doors.''

My officials have made enquiries of the Metropolitan Police. The police have confirmed that the wording of the Official Account accurately reflects their initial conclusions following statements they took from witnesses and their early examination of the scene. This shows that the bomb probably exploded near to the first set of doors. But where exactly [ underlined] the bomb exploded has yet to be established. The police are currently awaiting the final report from the Forensic Explosives Laboratory. This will be vital in determining the precise location of the bomb at the time of its detonation.

The wording in the Official Account therefore accurately reflects the police's understanding of the initial examination of the scene. The preface of the Official Account makes it clear that ''the evidence is not yet the full picture'' because it was known at the time of writing that more evidence might emerge from the ongoing police investigation. To date, none of the forensic evidence suggests that the Official Account is incorrect in stating where Khan was ''most likely'' to have been located prior to the explosion. Should the police revise their initial conclusions in the light of further information, an update will be issued.

Yours sincerely

John Reid''

So there you go. I am sure that July 7th campaigners, conspiracy theorists and interested parties can discuss this further on their own blogs and websites, but I wanted to share this information, since I am campaigning for an independent inquiry into 7/7 and I believe that this sort of information should be shared with the public.


Blogger Jetstar Boss said...

Hi Rachel,

Interesting er, what's the word, excuse from the Home Office. It may be truthful, but wouldn't it be sensible to ""release the evidence" and so give people a chance to really understand how the crime was commited?

Besides what is your opinion on Mr. Reid's letter?
What do you think about it?
Is there anything that you find wrong or unlikely in his letter?


September 02, 2006 12:19 pm  
Blogger Kier said...

I really appreciate you posting this, Rachel. I wish Mr. Reid would make such infomation public, without people having to rely on the goodwill of yourself to share it.

I agree it would be a mistake to make the assumption on the basis of the errors and unanswered questions that the entire account is wrong. That would be just as ill-advised as assuming the entire thing is right. It's not for us to provide the answers, that's why the authorities should be pressed to keep people informed.

Nafeez Ahmed has written an analysis of the inconsistent censorship of the authorities and the media over the reporting and investigations into terrorism that you might be interested to read.

Thank you again.

September 02, 2006 2:52 pm  
Blogger septicisle said...

How would releasing CCTV footage of men that are, err, dead, prejudice any inquiry into those that aren't? Those involved in the wider conspiracy obviously weren't with the 4 men when they exploded, so what harm would it do?

September 02, 2006 4:15 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

well, I don't know, bity I'm not running the police inestigation. I would hate to prejudice a trial - if there are others involved, and they are guilty, they have a lot of innocent people's blood on their hands, so I will support attempts to bring them to justice and a continuing investigation. IO am hopeful that further details will be published as soon as possible - I'd like the results of all investigations to be looked at independently and gone through by someone with the power to ask further - possibly awkward - questions - someone independent of the Govt. and security services - that we have had no such independent of the facts is a disgrace, particularly when the consitution is being shredded and people's ancient freedoms compromised because 'the rules have changed'. Rest assured that I will continue to push for all facts to be shared, without compromising trials or investigations or the security of the realm. It may take years to get it all out. But I, unlike 52 others, have the rest of my life ahead of me to ask awkward questions. And as the threat of terrorism has been deemed the most pressing issue that affects the nation, I do think it is appropriate that questions are asked, and information shared - and answers given honestly and transparently.

September 02, 2006 5:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is there any way to get rid of stinky the hamster?
So many times it gets in the way of the post and its impossible to read.

September 03, 2006 12:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous disliker of Stinky the Hamster -- if you use Firefox (or similar) and have NoScript installed, you can get rid of poor little Stinky by turning off scripts from

As to the question about releasing tapes, what tapes are being requested (tapes the police think are relevant? all tapes examined by the police?) and does the request include -- as I'd think it should, if we're to have a full picture -- other possibly relevant evidence such as witness statements?

I'm neutral on the subject, but I'd think that there's a strong objection in principle to releasing evidence since, as Rachel notes, in effect that's going to make it very difficult, if not impossible, to run a trial in any way relating to the bombings (e.g. of some hypothetical co-conspirator who accompanied or met one the bombers at some stage).

Even if it is decided that, in effect, the investigation's closed, it would raise a dangerous precedent, since people would then forever be asking for disclosure of evidence and unused materials in other investigations.

We rightly worry about the privacy implications of the ubiquitouus CCTV cameras; how happy are we about the prospect of such footage of us going about our business being released for doubtless minute examination by everyone on the internet because we happened to be in roughly the same place as a suspect in a major investigation at roughly the same time?

I'd also note that most CCTV footage -- certainly that taken from the cameras mounted on lamp-posts and so forth -- is of very poor quality and it's often very difficult to make out what's going on. It's useful for providing a narrative once you've managed to identify, for example, which blurred figure is the suspect but it's frequently no use at all for identifying him in the first place.

September 03, 2006 1:06 pm  

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