Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Terror exercise 'days before 7/7'

Footage taken by emergency services onboard a train between King's Cross and Russell Square tube stations in London after the 7/7 bomb blasts

Police completed a terror training exercise which envisaged an attack on London's transport network just days before the 7/7 atrocity, an inquest has heard.

During the "table top" drill, officers were asked to respond to imaginary bombings at Waterloo, Embankment and St James's Park Underground stations.

But there was absolutely no intelligence at the time to suggest such an attack was imminent, the hearing was told.

Instead, the scenario drawn up by a detective chief superintendent was designed to see how the force would cope if police were prevented from getting to work.

Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison agreed that a potential attack on the Underground was a "very real contemplation" for the Metropolitan Police at the time. But he insisted the force had no specific information indicating suicide bombers were on the brink of perpetrating the worst single terrorist atrocity on British soil.

Christopher Coltart, barrister for some of the bereaved families, told the inquest the "Hanover" exercise, which took place on July 1 and July 2 2005 and involved officers from the Met's anti-terror branch, "had at its core, an attack on the Underground".

Asked if it was simply a "coincidence" that this took place just days before 7/7, Mr Allison replied: "That's entirely correct."

"In fact, what I've been told is that the detective chief superintendent who actually set the scenario or asked for that scenario, did it because he wanted to create a situation where his detectives could not potentially get to work," he said.

The inquest into the deaths of the 52 victims of July 7 has heard officers also took part in a simulated attack at Bank tube station in 2003.

"Our view was there was a potential for an attack anywhere and the Underground was one of those places where they could attack," Mr Allison told the hearing.

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