Week 18 of the 7/7 Inquest proceedings from 21st to 24th February was scheduled to hear evidence regarding Preventability issues. The corporate witness for MI5 - Witness G was allocated two days, ACC Parkinson for West Yorkshire Police a day, and the final day was to hear evidence from ex-Metropolitan Police DAC Peter Clarke as well as DS Prunty of SO13. The lead counsel on Preventability issues was Patrick O'Connor assisted by Caoilfhionn Gallagher, both representing the bereaved families.
Witness G was instead on the stand for over 3½ days yet, on critical matters, Witness G claimed to know nothing. For those watching in the press and public annexe, also set-up by De Boers, Witness G's testimony was listened to while staring at a blank screen where the witness being questioned would usually appear. Often nothing was heard in response to questioning as Witness G simply nodded his responses. Noteworthy is that the deferential Hugo Keith QC failed to pull Witness G up on his repeated nodded responses, in the same way he would usually admonish a witness by making the point that the stenographers cannot hear a nod. Also interesting was the apparent appointment of new stenographers -- the live transcriptions come into their own when the microphones aren't working, something which generally occurs when counsel other than Keith interject or begin their questioning -- to replace the usual team owing to the high-security required by MI5 to put Witness G on the stand. This meant we were treated to 'petty criminal' appearing on the screen that carries the live transcriptions as 'pet tea criminal'. There were also long delays before each day's transcripts and adduced evidence appeared on the Inquests public website. In fact, a number of pieces of adduced evidence have yet to appear on the Inquests web site owing to "issues with the publication of these documents" that are being worked through with the American authorities. Unsurprisingly, these document relate specifically to the fantastical case of the FBI's star Supergrass/Informant, Mohammed Junaid Babar.
So how and why did Witness G's appearance get dragged out for 3½ days? Simply because, after being denied permission to make public Witness G's written statements, Mr Eadie, QC for the Home Secretary and the Security Service, decided to force the issue by insisting that G's three written statements be adduced into evidence and published on the Inquests website. Highly irregular behaviour, as pointed out by both Hugo Keith and Justice Hallett, given that G's evidence should be his oral testimony, not prior written statements. Only those pages actually referred to and shown during his oral testimony would go into the evidence published by the Inquests, and it was argued by counsel that this was sufficient as the Inquests had done justice to the written statements in examining each area. Eadie was insistent and informed the Inquest and the many bereaved families present that he would then take Witness G through each page and in that way get the full written statement adduced. Wednesday was expended through little more than G's simple repeated responses of "Yes", "No", "Don't know" and "I agree" to Eadie. The day that should have been available to Patrick O'Connor QC, the advocate to the bereaved, to examine the evidence of West Yorkshire Police was robbed from them in a most cynical way. So too was most of Thursday. The three remaining witnesses were left with a little over three hours in which to give evidence and answer questions. Malfeasant filibustering on behalf of the State indeed.
Were these 3½ days useful in terms of evidence? The press picked up on the fact that severely cropped photos of Shehzad Tanweer and Mohammed Sidique Khan were sent to the FBI to be shown to Supergrass/FBI informer Mohammed Junaid Babar in order to identify the members of the 'Crevice Plot'. Khan's photo was so badly cropped that it wasn't even shown to Babar. The ludicrous explanation from G was that the original photo would have shown the covert nature of the photograph and could reveal where it had been taken. Even the deferential Hugo Keith could not allow this explanation to go by unchallenged and asked if it was thought that Babar would be capable of recognising Toddington Service Station. Keith also ventured that one of his progeny could do a better job. Whether the FBI might not have had access to colour imaging systems in 2004 raised another note of disbelief from Keith: "America is not the other side of the moon. The systems must have been in place to allow a colour photograph to be transmitted to America".
By the end of the first day of Witness G's testimony J7 were compelled to write to the Coroner. We sent the following:
On 21 February pm, Witness G gave the following testimony in relation to a subscriber check on a phone number registered to MSK at 49a Bude Road:
Q. Could we have Security Service document SYS11076 [SYS11076-1], please? You have in the last day or two, G, provided some further details in relation to this call?
A. (Witness nods).
Q. The Security Service gave evidence, did it not, to the Intelligence and Security Committee that the calls were in July and August in their entirety, but, in fact, that was erroneous?
A. No. The calls were in July and August as reported in the ISC report. Our error at that point was saying we had done the subscriber check in July and August rather than March.
Q. I understand. So there were calls -- I think the ISC report showed or stated that there were calls in on 19th July, I think 15th August and -- sorry -- two dates in July and a date, 17th August, but it has subsequently transpired, has it not, that there were more calls on 19th July than the ISC understood?
Q. The call on 17th August was not 17th August, but 15th August?
Q. So there were some small errors in relation to the dates given to the Intelligence and Security Committee?
A. (Witness nods).
Q. The essence of the calls was this, was it not: that one of the early significant individuals in the Operation Crevice, the operation from 2003 and through 2004, was in touch with a man called Sidique Khan, who gave that address, but that was all it was understood to be?
A. It is not actually right to say he gave that address. That was the subscriber address for the telephone.
Q. If a check had been done, if a check had been done, and I am not suggesting that that single call necessitated a check, it would have shown that there was a person in touch with Mohammed Qayum Khan called Sidique Khan of 49A Bude Road?
A. That was a subscriber to the phone, yes.
Q. Operation Crevice, which included this man Mohammed Qayum Khan, gave rise to thousands upon thousands of what you have described earlier as call events, data events?
A. (Witness nods).
What explanation is there for a subscriber check on 11/03/2003 - 6 months before the phone call from 'Q' to a phone registered to MSK at 49a Bude Road in July 2003? 11/03/2003 would appear to be prior to the date of 'late March 2003' given for the start of Operation Crevice in the ISC II report.
J7's question was put to Witness G the following day and his response elicited another missive from J7 to the Inquests:
J7 appreciate that the Inquest team examined our query in relation to the subscriber check on the MSK phone 49a Bude Road carried out on 11 March 2003.This point was, sadly, clumsily handled by the seemingly pressurised O'Connor, who was faced with a mountain of evidence with which to question Witness G and a very short time allocated to him on 23rd February in which to do it:
This response from Witness G to the question in relation to the subscriber check being carried out in March 2003 was due to the MSK phone number appearing on Mohammed Quayyam Khan's billing prior to the beginning of Operation Crevice.
Q. You told us that one of the other investigative links to the man called Sidique Khan was the subscriber check on 11 March 2003 which showed that a phone was registered to his name and the address at 49A Bude Road, we know subsequently to have been the Iqra bookshop, and you, therefore, would have been able to assess that one of the calls made in July and August by Mohammed Qayum Khan, one of the participants in Crevice in the early days, was to that name and address?
A. (Witness nods).
Q. Why was a subscriber check being done in March if the calls from Mohammed Qayum Khan were not until July and August?
A. Because, at that point, we were reviewing earlier billing on Mohammed Qayum Khan on which that number came up.
Q. Oh, I see, so the Crevice operation, having started earlier in the year, had meant that there were checks from the very beginning going on in relation to calls made by the participants --
A. That's correct.
Q. -- which is why a check was made in March?
A. That's correct.
Q. So Crevice started long before July and August, towards the early part of 2003, in fact.
A. In the early part of 2003, yes.
Q. Before 11 March, presumably?
A. Yes, I can't remember the exact date, but certainly before then.
Q. But logically, it must have been before.
The ISC II report detailed timeline p58 makes the claim that the date of 13 July 2003 is significant in relation to MSK "as data from a mobile phone associated with MQK shows a number of calls with a telephone number MI5 had not seen before..... MI5 cannot match the name Siddique Khan with any on their databases and the contact is not investigated any further".
Do we now know that MI5 had seen this number before and the name MSK was presumably recorded in their databases from the check carried out on 11 March 2003? Why did the check on 13 July 2003 not flag this contact up?
Q. Could I go to a different topic, please, tab 7 in our core bundle? That is the subscriber check on 11 March 2003. This was kept on Security Service files, was it?If the honest intent of Witness G was to genuinely assist the Inquest process, he could have chosen to clarify quite why MI5 failed to pick up the name 'Sidique Khan' when searching on the phone number, rather than his name, and also why they claimed to the Intelligence & Security Committee that their checks in July 2003 failed to access and include the recorded March 2003 subscriber check held on their database. Instead, another question has been added into the mix: From where did the Siddique Khan name with two ds originate?
A. On Security Service records, yes.
Q. It's the -- I should identify it. It is SYS11076 [SYS11076-1] it's a subscriber check on 11 March 2003. I'll take you to the reference, if you wish, but ISC2 records when Crevice started as being late March 2003. Do you follow? I'll take to you the reference. It's page 57 in the hard copy, so page 64 of ISC2 which is INQ8305 [INQ8305-63]. Do you see there's a time-line there?
A. I think I have a different one up.
Q. Late March 2003. Is that not -- I'm not saying it's a big error, but is that somewhat in error, then?
A. Well, that would be my view, yes. I mean, having looked at the early part of Crevice, I would have put it a little bit earlier than that.
Q. So that this document falls within Operation Crevice?
Q. If we go to the next page in the ISC document, so that's page 65 , halfway down the first paragraph, 13 July 2003, if you glance down the first few --
A. I think we're working to different references. The 65 --
Q. I said page 65. It's page 64 [INQ8305-64], I'm sorry, I'm adding seven -- that's what I've been consistently doing, if I'm wrong, I'm wrong. Page 64, then.
A. 13 July 2003, yes, I've got that.
Q. Yes, now, if you please glance down it, but if you go four or five lines down, it says: "MI5 cannot match the name 'Siddique Khan' [spelt with two Ds] with any in their databases ..." Do you see that?
Q. Now, you had this telephone subscriber check in your records?
A. Yes, as I explain in, I think, my second statement, or possibly my third, the ISC is in error here because we didn't brief them correctly.
Q. Do you think you didn't brief the ISC correctly because there are two Ds rather than one? Do you see? You're checking, in July 2003, a number against Siddique Khan, two Ds, so that somebody has said, maybe accurately, that MI5 couldn't match Siddique, with two Ds, Khan?
A. No, we didn't brief them correctly because we'd misunderstood what our own records said and believed that this 11 March 2003 date for the check was an error and should have said July, but our reinvestigations recently confirm that 11 March is correct.
Q. So it's not that your systems were flummoxed by there being two Ds rather than one?
A. That's not relevant for the system we're talking about here. The error was ours in assuming that the 11 March date on this document was incorrect when it was, in fact, correct. [23 02 2011 p7:63]
What is blatantly clear from this exchange, apart from the ISC II report being littered with errors, is that in July and August 2003, MI5 knew full well that Mohammed Quayyum Khan, aka 'Q', was in contact with at the very least the Iqra bookshop and, potentially, also in contact with Mohammed Sidique Khan. Given that intercept evidence cannot be used or referred to in proceedings, considered RIPA evidence, there is of course the question of the bugging of 'Q's phone and the fact that there was presumably full knowledge of precisely what was being said. Intercept evidence from phone bugging -- as used extensively during Operation Crevice -- is very likely the untouchable subject referred to in another dead-end exchange between O'Connor and Witness G:
Q. Can we find from here, therefore -- I'm not asking you for anything confidential, but in broad terms -- a pattern of mobile phone use between Mohammed Sidique Khan and Omar Khyam in the lead-up to each of these meetings?Passports Pakistan and PISCES
A. Yes, that's fair.
Q. Good. That's what I thought I detected. I'm not going to go behind the redactions.
A. I would be grateful if you didn't.
Q. No, I'm not going to. So obviously somebody has, and you have, reviewed what is the sensitive aspect of this and what is in this document and what's been redacted. Can I ask you this, though, because it's obviously not sensitive that there is this pattern, do you understand: was there similar contact before 21 February 2004?
MR EADIE: My Lady, that's very problematic, or it may be.
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: Why? It's the same principle. Why is this more secret than what the witness has accepted?
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: I think you'd better allow Mr Keith or Mr O'Connor to whisper certain letters in your ear, Mr O'Connor.
MR KEITH: We can't whisper anything, I'm afraid, because that would be equally impermissible.
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: If supposing, though, that something existed ...
MR KEITH: Could my learned friend ask the question and then we will reassess or rephrase it and then we will see where we need to go thereafter?
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: Fine. My Lady, what I'm very happy to do is I will rephrase it, just on my feet, and then leave it, everyone can think about it, perhaps speak to me in general terms over the luncheon adjournment and that's it.
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: Anyway, try the question again to see whether we can avoid offending any of my rulings, statutory instruments, Parliament Acts, whatever.
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: Was there any mobile phone contact between a mobile phone attributed to Mohammed Sidique Khan and a mobile phone attributed to Omar Khyam which took place on 20 or 21 February 2004?
A. My Lady, for the reasons you've identified, I don't know whether I can answer this question. [ibid p67:21]
One of the other issues examined in relation to Mohammed Junaid Babar was a statement he gave in April/May 2004 regarding meeting with certain members of the 'Crevice plot' at Islamabad airport in June and July of 2003. It was plain that the two men Babar identified as 'Ibrahim' and 'Zubair' could have been identified by accessing the travel information between the UK and Pakistan of Jawad Akbar who was already in custody after the 30 March 2004 Crevice arrests and whose passport details were known. Again J7 were compelled to communicate with the Coroner and Counsel and sent the following communication when Eadie and 'G' sought to confirm how difficult such a process would be:
On 23 February, Mr Eadie questioned how information on travel to and from Pakistan could be acquired by the police:J7 could also have detailed an even earlier report that appeared in the Times on 18 July 2005 which also revealed these flight details, and it would be interesting to know The Times' source for this information, particularly if the source was, as is likely, the security services.
22 Do you also know -- and, again, say if you don't and
23 we can do some further research -- how the information
24 about Mr Akbar's travel was actually acquired by the
1 A. I do not, no.
2 Q. You don't know what level of detailed work, diplomatic
3 efforts and mutual legal assistance, treaty requests,
4 had to be made to secure that information?
5 A. I do not, no.
Yet on 19/07/05, 3 days after the formal identification of MSK, the media were able to report all the details of Khan & Tanweer's travel to and from Pakistan including stopovers in Turkey, flight numbers and images from PISCES from November 2004. Passport numbers were also released.
Daily Mirror 19/07/2005
The opening statement of the Crevice trial stated:
86. This is a Time Chart or Time Line. It has, as you will see on the front page, a line alongside each defendant and some other individuals who feature. The purpose of the chart is to indicate, so far as records are available, entry into and departure from, Pakistan. If we go to page 7 for example, we find we are in the period June and July 2003. That was, you may remember, a period of some significance because according to Babar, that was when the Malakand training camp took place.
87. Against that background we see Khyam and Garcia are indeed in Pakistan. If we go back to page 6 we see Khyam arrived on 7 May; if we go back to page 5 we see Garcia arrived on 10 February. Reverting to page 7 we see Shujah arrived on 27 June, with his digital scales you may recall.
88. Jawad Akbar arrived later on 25 July and Khawaja a little earlier on 16 July - they attended later than the first batch you will recall. This chart is dependent upon records - passports and a system called PISCES which Pakistan had introduced only in the last two or three years and not at all airports. Accordingly the records may not be complete and may not cover someone - Amin may be an example - who has been in Pakistan on a long term basis.
As indicated above this information was gathered by the use of passport numbers and PISCES without the use of flight manifests.
Taking the PISCES
PISCES is a system set up in Pakistan by the FBI/CIA to enable live monitoring of passengers through Pakistan's airports. A Times of India report details the link between PISCES and FBI/CIA systems:
The Personal Identification Secure Comparison Evaluation System (PISCES), an automated border control system, is being implemented in 20 ports of immigration in Pakistan.An article on the implementation of PISCES in Malta in 2004 claims:
According to latest information, all points of entry and exit in Pakistan would have PISCES system by Dec 31, 2004.
PISCES is being installed in over a dozen high risk countries of the world at America's instance. However, in Pakistan's case, Timesofindia.com has detailed American plans showing that PISCES is being linked up to Pakistan's internal national information making the situation much more complex.
According to the Mission Performance Plan set by the US embassy in Islamabad, America is presently involved deeply in prodding and forcing Pakistani authorities to develop national intelligence and criminal databases which did not exist till 2001.
Surprisingly this database is linked to the PISCES border control system which is in the hands of US officials.
In the mission document targets, by 2004 end the PISCES system would be "fully operational and integrated with National Crisis Management Cell's intelligence and investigative database".
In 2003, the US embassy was aiming to develop "fully functional intelligence and investigative database" link between provincial Crime Investigation Departments and National Crisis Management cell".
And in 2003 itself, the American plan reveals: "intelligence and investigative database linked with other similar programs, including PISCES border control system."
Startlingly, only in 2005 will Pakistan assume "responsibility for continued operation of PISCES system."
Till then, the US counter-terrorism officials would have control over the sophisticated system that not only records details of every person leaving or entering Pakistan, but would also transmit these details to the central servers of FBI and CIA back in the US.
Details of PISCES installation are detailed in the Mission Performance Plan for 2004, prepared about a year after 9/11 in 2002, and in possession of Timesofindia.com .
Besides PISCES, thousands of closed circuit television networks are being installed across Pakistan.
Over the last two years US policies regarding Pakistan have been unfolding as scripted in the Mission Performance Plan for 2004.
FBI may have its bugs on Malta’s arrivals and departuresStrange how such a major counter-terrorism system has failed to reach the ears or eyes of as senior a member of MI5 as Witness G:
The information on travellers collected by the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES), donated to Malta by the United States, is liable to be shared with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database and other intelligence agencies, according to a report by the US Congressional Research Service seen by MaltaToday.
PISCES, a $1.5 million (Lm700,000) software package which forms part of the US Department of State’s Terrorist Interdiction Programme, is designed to monitor and restrict the movement of terrorists and other criminals across borders by making real-time comparisons of photographs and other personal details with the FBI database, and analyse traveller information to identify and intercept terrorist suspects.
Malta is in fact the only EU Member State to have allowed the installation of PISCES at all its transit points, namely Malta International Airport, the Sea Passenger Terminal, Ta’ Xbiex Marina and the Gozo ferry terminal.
According to a US Congress report seen by MaltaToday on Pakistan-US Anti-Terrorism Co-operation, PISCES can make “real-time comparisons of photographs and other personal details with the FBI database in order to track the movements of Islamic militants”, as well as containing data on worldwide bomb explosions.
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: Right. Was there any system of record-keeping -- it wasn't the Border Agency then, I don't think, in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2003 -- but was there any system of record-keeping -- bare record-keeping -- of departures and arrivals at UK border points?Why would Witness G choose to claim no knowledge of PISCES in 2011, some 7 years after its implementation? Why would he choose not to assist counsel for the bereaved families by outlining what is commonly known about this system? Frankly, if Witness G is unaware of the PISCES system then he is in the wrong job.
A. I'm afraid you'd need an expert from the Home Office or the Passport Office or whatever, but my view, based on my limited knowledge of these things, is that they were not, at this time, recording departures from the UK routinely of British citizens, but that is not a certain answer, Mr O'Connor.
Q. Right. Have you heard of something called Operation Theseus?
A. I have.
Q. Is that a system run by the Pakistani -- Pisces, I'm getting muddled.
A. I haven't.
Q. You haven't heard of Operation Pisces. So I can't ask you anything about that?
A. I'm afraid you can't, no.
Q. Right. I'll state the point, because, my Lady, I'm not being as clear as I might be. The proposition is that the Pakistani authorities, from at least 2002, kept a record of arrivals and departures through all the major airports, including Islamabad, which is the relevant one, and the Security Service has a close liaison partnership with the Pakistani authorities, doesn't it?
A. The UK authorities do, yes.
Q. Is it right that if you asked or instigated a request from the Pakistan authorities for information from any such system, you would expect it to be answered cooperatively by the Pakistani authorities?
A. I don't know, to be honest, Mr O'Connor. It would depend what the question was.
Q. This is not a highly sensitive piece of information to pass to the Security Service here, is it?
A. It really would depend on what the piece of the information was and how the Pakistanis felt.
Mr Eadie began the afternoon of the final day's hearing on Preventability by submitting a supplementary response from Witness 'G' into the proceedings which only led to more obfuscation of the issue about whether PISCES was easily accessible and how data from it was accessed in respect of Jawad Akbar's travel to Pakistan:
MR EADIE: Witness G, have you, overnight, had cause to have some researches conducted into what we are calling the manifest point?Witness G is claiming that a multi-million dollar system installed by the US could not have been accessed simply through searching for a passport number or a known flight number and/or date for the passengers that had passed through, despite all this information being stored by the system. 'G' also claims that this could only be accessed through the hard copy of Javad Akbar's passport which showed an entry stamp for 25 July 2003. This hardly answers how Mohammed Siddique Khan's and Shehzad Tanweer's flight details were printed in the Times just 11 days after 7/7, on 18 July 2005.
A. I have.
Q. Is the product of those researches contained in a --
MR KEITH: It's on the system, if my learned friend needs it, at temp 2.
MR EADIE: Can we have that up on the screen, please [SYS-manifest document]? I don't know if we can blow that up a little. It's not very legible. G, I want particularly to focus, if I may, on paragraph 3 of that document, taking the rest of it as read, as it were. So far as that is concerned, is it your understanding that a formal request was made by the Metropolitan Police post-arrest in order to obtain details about Akbar's travel?
A. It is my understanding.
Q. What was the date on which that request was made?
A. June 2005.
Q. When was a response received from the Pakistani authorities in relation to that?
A. That was received in September 2005.
Q. Is that the date we see in subparagraph (d) of paragraph 3?
A. It is.
Q. In order to produce that result, had the Pakistani authorities simply gone to an airline and got the manifest details with a list of all the passengers?
A. They had not.
Q. What had they gone to?
A. They had interrogated their system, Pisces.
Q. What does that give you?
A. Pisces, as I understand it, is a central system operated by the Pakistani authorities which will offer a date and time of passing through immigration control for named individuals, not flight manifests.
Q. As part of that, as we see from paragraph 3(a), the form in which that request was made was by way of a request for mutual legal assistance, was it?
A. That is correct.
Q. The response that came back was, what? It was in the form of a statement, according to 3(c). Is that right?
A. That's my understanding.
Q. That gave a flight number and carrier and route?
A. That is correct.
Q. As a result of that, the Met made further enquiries; yes?
A. That's correct.
Q. Those are set out in subparagraph (e) of paragraph 3. Is that right?
A. They are.
Q. As a result of that, because those enquiries were carried out after the 7/7 attacks, it was by that date known that Ibrahim was, in fact, MSK. Is that right?
A. That is correct.
Q. It was through that route, and that route only, that they arrived at MSK being on that flight?
A. That is correct.
Q. Could we go to the next page, please, on the screen? Is the point that is the core point that's being made in paragraph 4 that SYS wouldn't have had any reason, prior to March 2005, to make a any sort of similar request to the Pakistani authorities? Why is that?
A. Because we wouldn't have required that for intelligence purposes, unlike the Met requiring it for evidential purposes.
Q. What's the significance of the March 2005 date?
A. In March 2005, that's when we received the additional information from Mohammed Junaid Babar.
Q. If you had made a similar request, does paragraph 5 then set out the additional steps that you would have needed to take in order to achieve an identification result?
A. Yes, I think that's correct.
Q. Paragraph 6 looks, unless I'm missing something, to be something of a repetition of what we've already seen in paragraph 3: namely, the date of the request by the Met and the date on which the response was given. Is that right?
A. Yes, that's correct.
Q. Then in paragraph 7, you deal with the most likely mechanism for seeking to establish the identity of Ibrahim, which was through photographs. Is that right?
A. That's correct.
Q. Rather than this sort of, as we now know it would have to have been, convoluted process?
A. That's correct.
Q. In any event, paragraph 8 is dealing with whether or not you had enough specific details at the time to make a sensible interrogation of the Pakistani authorities even assuming that time and everything else permitted?
A. That's correct.
MR EADIE: I'm grateful. Thank you, Witness G. [24/02/11 p1:19]
Not to be deterred O'Connor attempted one last time to clarify how PISCES could have been interrogated to enable the identification of 'Ibrahim' and 'Zubair' between March 2004 and July 2005. This exchange also reveals some of the assumptions that Justice Hallett is content to make over this issue and is a cause of concern in anticipating how she will rule and on what basis at the end of these proceedings, which should only be on fact and evidence not assumption. It also reveals some of the frustrations and tensions that have built up over 'G's extended appearance and the pressures that have arisen in the short time allowed for Mr O'Connor to make essential points to the Inquests:
Q. Finally, this gist gives us a helpful indication through other enquiries that were made about the time lag that in fact happened between the enquiry of the Pakistan authorities in June 2005, about Akbar, and the witness statement being produced on 6 September 2005. Do you follow?
A. I do.
Q. Query, do you allow the receipt of the formal witness statement may not actually reflect precisely the receipt of the bare information. It's possible that was communicated --
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: Wait a minute, Mr O'Connor, I'm sorry, I'm stopping you here. This was a request made by UK authorities after London had just been blown up.
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: Oh yes, yes, yes.
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: You cannot ask me to find as a fact that you'd have received the same kind of rapid cooperation if some kind of request had been sent years before in relation to somebody they didn't really know much about. I'm sorry, that is not a good point and I am not going to allow you to pursue it.
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: My Lady, the point is, in fact, the opposite. This is my last question, my Lady, and I have a document to go to, so we're talking about, once I ask this question --
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: All right, carry on.
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: My Lady, may I explain why it's the opposite? Because it's the very fact that Akbar is in custody and the authorities had this information from his passport anyway, as this gist points out. So this enquiry was not actually urgent and, by contrast, the enquiry about Ibrahim was because he's free and potentially a threat. Does my Lady see the point?
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: Mr O'Connor, unless I'm going to ask Witness G to take me through the kind of time-lag you get from requests to foreign countries we will be here for, I suspect, days. I have done a number of cases involving requests to foreign countries. I suspect you have too. And the response from foreign countries varies enormously, depending on the circumstances, both in our country, in their countries, and their response. I am not going to enable you to make a bad point without saying to Witness G: go away and get me the evidence about the average response time to an ordinary request to Pakistan.
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: My Lady, I'm sorry, but the tension between us at this moment is entirely a result of the way this morning was very substantially expended without very much product. My Lady, I would like, please -- there is going to be no such explanation as you fear. There is one document which illustrates my point very simply and clearly. Can I ask for it to be put up, we'll see it and we'll see the time-lag?
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: You can ask for it to be put up, because I'm going to let you just have this one last piece of leeway. If you describe a tension, it is because parties -- wrongly, in my view, and wrongly in law -- have been treating these proceedings as if they are adversarial. They have been accusing Counsel to the Inquests of asking questions with a particular motive in mind.
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: We haven't, my Lady.
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: Mr O'Connor, may I finish, please?
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: Yes.
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: They act for me and they do not take sides, and if tension is arising in these proceedings, I attribute it solely to the way some parties have been treating these proceedings. So could we please all allow the temperatures to calm or to lower and for everybody's tempers to calm down and to focus on the issues which can properly be put to the witnesses. Right, you have two minutes.
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: Could we please have [INQ9398-2] up,please? Could it be expanded? Do you see this is a Pisces answer to a request for information?
A. So it appears to me. I'm not familiar with these.
Q. You see that it is a reply of 22 August 2005.
A. Is that in the top right, Mr O'Connor? I can barely read it.
Q. I agree. Do you see "Available query particulars, query date 22 August 2005"?
Q. And you see "deputy command", blah blah blah,"Islamabad, through Pisces via letter", blah blah blah, "dated 22 August 2005"?
A. No, I'm afraid I can't read the second bit, but I'm assuming that is what it says.
Q. That is what it says. Do you agree this query is very likely to have been sent after the 7 July bombings, there's no reason for it to have been sent before?
A. It is likely, but I do not know.
Q. If this answer -- I've asked Mr Hill to help us on this, and Mr Hill is nodding, my Lady, I asked him earlier today to save time -- but if this answer is dated 22 August 2005, it shows that there's a time-lag of some six weeks or so, seven weeks perhaps. Is that right?
MR HILL: Can I help?
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: Thank you.
MR HILL: Request made on 1 August, answered on the 22nd.
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: Three weeks. My Lady, I apologise for going beyond the two minutes, but it has established something which is informative and takes us well, well, well beneath the four months appearing in this gist in relation to those other enquiries. That's all I ask. Thank you. [ibid p8:10]
This still doesn't explain how the Times was reporting this information on 18/07/2005 when the Metropolitan Police Service hadn't received this response until 22/08/2005!
In a final desperate bid to get clarity on the issue of being able to know - in the case of someone who is suspected of involvement with terrorism - their movements in and out of the UK without the use of intrusive action (as claimed by 'G' in point 8 of this witness statement) O'Connor makes an appeal to Justice Hallett for this question to be asked of the Security Services:
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: The ideal answer would be: with the passport number and date of birth of a terrorism suspect we can tag that passport number and name and date of birth on a computer system and, when somebody travels -- I know I'm not going to get this, but this is the ideal -- when somebody travels, leaves Heathrow and arrives in Pakistan, we know about it. Now, I can't be told all of that, but the thrust and common sense of it is: actually, we have a facility which is regularly used, which can easily be used, not intrusive actions at all, whereby we can monitor the movements of terrorism suspects. Now, my Lady's, I'm sure, got the point, it can be formulated much better than I've formulated it now.J7 suggest that the actual answer as to whether a known suspect can be monitored on entry or exit from the UK will be a resounding 'Yes' - especially when travelling to or from Pakistan. That was, after all, one of the primary requirements for and functions of PISCES intended to benefit the Intelligence agencies. Where this information will matter is when DCS McKenna of the Metropolitan Police gives evidence about Operation Theseus on 3rd March as the final witness to face the 7/7 Inquests.
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: For a start, before anybody goes off with the idea that is the case --
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: Yes, I agree. I --
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: Pause. We don't know that that was the case back in 2004/2005, and we don't know whether the kind of actions you're describing do come within the kind of material which the authorities would rather I dealt with in closed session.
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: I understand. That precise, detailed information could well raise public interest immunity issues, but some piece of information, which will assist my Lady to reach a fair conclusion as to the facility with which that kind of tracking could be done at the time without setting out how it was actually done, and the way the state of play at the moment is, well, it's all disproportionate and may involve intrusive actions and really it's not really on.
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: Right, so the question would be: was there an ability to monitor the international travel of Mohammed Sidique Khan by name --
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: Yes.
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: -- and passport number?
MR PATRICK O'CONNOR: Yes. [ibid p113:5]
J7 asked in our submission to the Inquests quite how Mohammed Junaid Babar was able to enter and exit the UK at least 3 times without coming to the attention of the Intelligence Services. This brings us on to the issue of the FBI and possible CIA involvement in Operation Crevice.
Part II to follow