Government rejects July 7 inquiry

The government has rejected calls for a full public inquiry into July’s London bombings, drawing criticism on Wednesday from victims, politicians and pressure groups.

Four British Islamists killed themselves and 52 others in suicide bombings on three underground trains and a bus five months ago. Around 700 more were injured.

The Home Office said an independent probe could prejudice continuing investigations into the attack and that the government had to focus first on thwarting future threats.

Instead, it will appoint a government official to produce a “narrative” of events surrounding the July 7 bombings and make information available to parliamentary inquiries already under way.

“We do need a narrative about what actually happened on that period and immediately before it,” Home Secretary Charles Clarke told BBC Radio.

Clarke said although there could be no trial of the perpetrators, since they were dead, authorities were still investigating their links to others who are still alive.

“One of the difficulties in all this is both to avoid compromising intelligence sources but also to do with potential sub judice issues,” he said.

“There are a lot of questions still outstanding about the relationship of those individuals to other individuals and how that operated and those are matters that are currently being investigated very actively,” he said.

Questions have already been asked about why one of the four bombers did not cross security services’ radar.

The government has also been criticised for lowering its general security threat level a few weeks before the attack.

“The fact remains there were intelligence failures,” Conservative security spokesman Patrick Mercer told BBC Radio. “I am particularly interested in why, nearly five weeks before the attacks on July 7, the intelligence alert level was dropped.”

Clarke conceded that the security services were not aware the July attack was about to happen, adding: “There is no question of a cover-up of any kind.”

Muslim groups said they also wanted an independent inquiry to get to the truth of why four British-born men could be so disaffected as to want to commit such an atrocity.

“It has to be a fully comprehensive public inquiry that will provide us the information we need as to what actually happened, how it happened and why it happened so that we will be better prepared to prevent such tragedy happening again,” said Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Paul Dadge, who helped set up a makeshift emergency medical centre in a store near the Edgware Road station blast after he was evacuated from the underground network, said he thought the government’s decision was odd.

“It seems a little strange that the largest loss of life in a terrorist attack is not going to be investigated by a public inquiry,” the 29-year-old told Reuters.

“My experience of being on the ground was that the medical response to the different bombs was not comparable.”

He said he would read the chronological report before “jumping to conclusions”.

Saba Mozakka, whose mother died in one of the blasts, said, the families of the dead had not been asked for their views.

“Obviously we have got opinions about where it all went wrong in terms of searching for loved ones (and) the lack of information,” she told BBC Radio.