Families of July 7 bombing victims fear they may never learn the truth
(TELEGRAPH) Andrew Scott Reid, the inner London coroner, has written to relatives of the 52 people who died in the bomb blasts nearly four years ago saying that a full inquest may not be required because a verdict of unlawful killing is inevitable.
In the five page letter, Mr Scott Reid makes clear that the inquests, which were adjourned in the aftermath of the killings, could simply be re-opened and a cause of death given.
He says a decision to appoint a High Court judge to preside over the inquests has already been taken by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, but a suitable candidate has not yet been found and “realistically” the inquests may not go ahead for another year.
Mr Straw dropped measures to hold inquests in secret from a government bill last week but added in a ministerial statement that where it is “not possible to proceed with an inquest under the current arrangements” the government will now “consider establishing an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 to ascertain the circumstances the deceased came by his or her death.”
The families fear the act, which has been condemned by Amnesty International, would allow Mr Straw to censor any report.
Many relatives of the July 7 victims are fighting for a public inquiry into the deaths but fear that an inquest may be their only opportunity to ask questions of the police and MI5.
They feel that the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), which is appointed by the Prime Minister and published its second report on Tuesday, did not inquire deeply enough into how the bombers slipped through the net.
In his letter to relatives, Mr Scott Reid said: “If the judge decides that there is sufficient cause to resume the inquests he or she will decide the scope of the inquests. If the decision is made that there is sufficient cause to resume the inquests, then the inquests may be limited in scope to determining the cause of death and the circumstances in which each cause of death arose.”
He said the judge may allow a wider investigation into “whether the state failed to protect the lives of the victims” in the style of the Diana inquest but Graham Foulkes, who son David was killed in the blasts, said: “He has made it clear that the judge is under no obligation to take notice of our views and that it what has upset people.
“We have been waiting for nearly four years and they have still not identified a judge but there seems to be no reason in law why it couldn’t be held tomorrow.
“As David’s father I am unable to explain why I need to know but there are still too many questions about why this was allowed to happen.”
Robert Webb, whose sister Laura was killed, said: “The ISC report seemed to give the benefit of the doubt to MI5 in a way the Hutton Report or the Butler Inquiry did to MI6 over Iraq.
“To suggest this is no more than four people who killed themselves is not helpful. I feel I owe it to Laura to get some answers. I can’t just continue to lay flowers on her grave when she died a death at someone else’s hands.
“We need a fair independent inquiry that asks robust questions of MI5 and the police into why decisions were made and looks at wider questions of why these men did what they did.”