July 7 attack inquests may be held in secret

Gary Cleland
London Telegraph
Thursday, March 20, 2008

Families fear they may never find out the truth about the July 7 suicide bombings under Government plans that could mean that the inquests into the victims' deaths are heard in secret.

The Counter Terrorism Bill contains proposals to allow the Government to appoint special coroners to inquests where national security is deemed to be an issue, such as instances in which people have been killed in terrorist attacks or in wars. These inquests could sit behind closed doors and without a jury.

It comes just days after Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, went to the High Court in an attempt to prevent coroners criticising the Ministry of Defence at military inquests, which provoked a furious reaction from families of troops killed on the front line.

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Robert Webb, whose sister Laura was killed in the Edgware Road bomb on July 7, 2005, said that the new proposals were "very worrying".

"The most important thing from the point of view of the brother of a victim of a terrorist attack is that we have a need to know what happened and if any lessons can be learned from the attacks," he said. "Clearly if parts of any inquest are going to be held in secret not only do we not get the answers but the wider public don't.

"It's my belief that society as a whole needs to be as well informed as possible about these attacks so we can all play our part in preventing them."

He added that it was important that a coroner independent of the Government be appointed to look impartially at each case.

A date for the inquests of the July 7 victims has still to be set, almost three years after the attacks that killed 52 people and injured about 800.

Full article here.

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