Each of the 52 victims of the July 7, 2005 terrorist attacks would have died “whatever time the emergency services reached and rescued them”, a coroner has said.
Ruling that they were all unlawfully killed, Lady Justice Hallett said yesterday the evidence “does not justify the conclusion that any failings of any organisation or individual caused or contributed to the deaths”.
She spoke to a courtroom packed with bereaved families and survivors who have waited nearly six years for answers to their questions about how four suicide bombers were able to carry out the attacks on London.
Lady Justice Hallett said: “I have concluded... that the medical and scientific evidence in relation to all 52 victims leads to only one sad conclusion.
“I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that each of them would have died whatever time the emergency services reached and rescued them.”
The coroner paid tribute to the “quiet dignity” of the families of the innocent victims, saying she was making a series of recommendations which “may save lives” in the future.
She thanked the survivors of the attacks, many of whom are still suffering from trauma, for giving evidence to the inquest.
As well as announcing her verdicts for the 52 people killed in the attacks on three Tube trains and a red double-decker bus, Lady Justice Hallett also ruled that inquests into the deaths of the four bombers should not be resumed.
The bombings were carried out by Mohammed Sidique Khan (30), Shehzad Tanweer (22), Hasib Hussain (18) and Jermaine Lindsay (19).
Among the nine recommendations the coroner made at the end of the inquest were:
- MI5 should consider whether it can ensure informants are shown the best possible quality of photographs.
- MI5 should look at whether it can improve how it keeps records of decisions about prioritising suspects.
- The London Resilience Team — which was set up after the 9/11 attacks to plan for emergencies in the capital — should review inter-agency training of frontline staff for dealing with major incidents;
- There should be a review of the way in which Transport for London is alerted to major incidents declared by the emergency services on the Tube and in turn how it informs other agencies about emergencies on the network;
- There should be a review of how the emergency services confirm that the power in Tube tracks has been turned off and it is safe to go on to them;
- Transport for London and the London Resilience Team should examine how a common rendezvous point for the emergency services is established at the scene of a major incident;
- London Ambulance Service and London Air Ambulance staff should review training for staff in dealing with large numbers of casualties, in particular to make clear that the process of assessing their injuries - known as triage - does not exclude giving immediate medical aid;
- The Department of Health, London mayor Boris Johnson and other relevant bodies should look at the funding and capabilities of the London Air Ambulance.
The coroner concluded that failings by MI5 did not contribute to the loss of life in the 7/7 attacks and highlighted the “immense” number of threats facing the UK at the time.
Lady Justice Hallett also highlighted the bereaved families' concerns about the limited records kept by MI5 about decisions on prioritising suspects.
She warned of the “possibly dire consequences of a flawed decision which cannot be properly supervised”.
Surveillance teams watched, followed and photographed Khan and Tanweer meeting Khyam and his cell in February and March 2004.
But intelligence officials concluded that the pair were only small-time fraudsters and therefore not a top priority for further inquiries.
The coroner said MI5 should examine its procedures “to establish if there is room for further improvement in the recording of decisions relating to the assessment of targets”.
She also singled out weaknesses in the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), the Parliamentary body which oversees the Security Service's work.