Monday, 25 April 2011

The Bodies On The Line

by David Minahan*

Documentation produced by the authorities during the inquest indicates that the bodies of six of the victims of the Piccadilly Line bombing were found outside the train, presumably having been blown from the first carriage by the force of the explosion.

Mihaela Otto is shown as having been found on the platform side with Inhab Slimane, Lee Harris, Samantha Badham, Arthur Frederick and Karolina Gluck located on the opposite side in the narrow space between the train and the tunnel wall.

This in itself seems surprising. Given that the explosion took place near double doors on the platform side of the carriage it would surely have been more likely for the majority of the bodies to have exited there?


There is no doubt whatsoever that the carriage was packed and congested. Many passengers testified to this in their statements.

Sharon Broome, a senior forensic case officer submitted a written report as an expert witness which was read to the court on the 2nd February. In this [page 54:25] she confirmed that “the explosion occurred within a packed commuter train” and that “The relatively localised nature of the damage observed within the carriage is due in part to the explosive force having been absorbed by the people present at the site of the explosion”. [55:9-12]

The schematic diagram (INQ10283-10) confirms that every seat in the carriage was occupied with seven survivors identified from the passengers who were standing in the area between double doors D5 and D6.

Tragically many others who were standing in that location did not survive. It is apparent that there must have been a large number of passengers located between the bomb and D6 and that they would have caught the full effects of the explosion. Yet, if the official version is correct, D6 must have been so damaged that the five mentioned above were blown out through it. Admittedly many of the windows may have been blown out but it seems highly improbable that the victims would have been catapulted out of these over the heads of the seated passengers!

The Doors

David Boyce, a station supervisor at Russell Square, giving evidence on the 1st December described entering the train and the scenes that he encountered. Despite it being put to him by Hugo Keith QC that “The doors had been blown away by the force of the explosion had they not?” [120:17] he maintained that the doors were there, but that they were buckled.

Patrick Barnes, a passenger, gave a statement on the 25th November 2005 which was read to the inquest on the morning of the 6th December. He described making his way to the front of the carriage as “There was no way of getting out either side as they were closed”. [110:3-5]

A witness to the London Assembly Review Committee, 'George', who was also a passenger in the carriage stated “There were people saying get the doors open. We will smash the doors. Somebody tried to get the door open where I had my back up against but they soon gave up because I think the pressure was still on the actual door mechanism, and they gave up.” [page 128]

Late Evidence

In a statement that was read to the Inquest on the 17th January, a month after the Piccadilly Line evidence had been concluded, Peter Sanders, who was a group station manager based at Kings Cross, recalled going into “what I thought was the front car. I could see a door had been blown off and the other one was hanging loose, I assisted in removing this door.”[54:14-16] This certainly seems to have been a remarkable demonstration of concern for his employer's property given that the the carriage was devastated by the effects of the bomb, in semi-darkness and strewn with dead bodies and body parts!

Possibly the explanation is that Mr Sanders was describing another carriage. A colleague of his, Simon Cook, recalled during his evidence on the 6th December, that he had had a meeting with him “in the area of the crossover”. Then when asked if he recalled. “any other London Underground staff other than yourself and Mr Chaudhury” being in the first carriage, not the remainder of the train or the crossover, Mr Cook replied “I don't recall any other underground staff being in the first carriage, no”.[48:23-24]

The Crossover

It seems that when the stricken train stopped, carriages three and four were in a position straddling the crossover between the east and west bound lines. The significance of this is that the space at either side of the carriages, particularly on the platform side, is wider there than in the normal tube tunnel. For it to have been possible for the six deceased to have ended up in the area between the train and the tunnel wall, they must have fallen out of the first carriage as it went past the crossover and not before it, where the explosion took place, or after it where carriage one finished up, as both those points are in the narrow tunnel [diagram INQ10283-12] where there would not have been enough space for the bodies to land.

Interestingly another witness to the London Assembly Review Committee 'Ian' described being blown out of the carriage but hitting the wall of the tunnel and bouncing back in. This can be read on page 179.
Richard Barnes (Chair) So, you were almost blown out of the carriage?

Ian “I was; I was blown out and then back in. There are electric cables running along the tunnel, and that is what I hit.”
[Editor's Note: Interestingly there was no testimony from 'Ian' to the 7 July Inquests proceedings and there is no 'Ian' included in the diagram of survivors from the carriage provided by the MPS.]


So the official theory presented to the Inquest is that the blast took place whilst still in the narrow part of the tunnel but that the train moved forward past the point of the explosion eventually stopping as outlined above.

Diagram INQ10283-12 does show all six of the passengers lying beside the fourth carriage in the crossover area and Mr Keith and his team helpfully produced a photograph (INQ10340-1) which is said to show a pair of surgical gloves which were used in the treatment of the stricken passengers as the lay between the train and the tunnel wall. (It has to be said that, at least to the naked eye, there doesn't appear to be any sign of broken glass or other debris from the explosion).

There doesn't seem to have been any expert evidence produced to explain how the direction of the explosion blew out five people from the far side of the carriage.

Admittedly there have been reports from other locations of train doors opening and closing again as a result of mechanisms being affected by the explosions. This could have happened here and the five passengers may have been pressed up against the door due to the crowded conditions. In that case there certainly would have been many passengers located between them and the bomb which might have been expected to 'cushion' it's effects, but the injuries sustained appear to have been caused by the explosion rather than just the consequences of falling from the train.

Also, if the door was buckled as Simon Cook reported (or hanging loose), it is difficult to envisage how it would have shut again?

Being as objective as possible it could be said the official version of events is just about possible; but is it really probable?

*David Minahan was by occupation a claims investigator for an insurance company and later a leading firm of solicitors in which David gained experience of "forensic" matters. David was also the National President of a major Trade Union (MSF now merged with the AEEU to form Amicus). David researched and wrote the London Bombings Dossier published on the J7 website and says he is convinced that there has been a massive cover up and campaign of disinformation about the events of 7/7.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Lynton House Mystery

by David Minahan*

Reva Cope and Regina Friel both featured in an article in the Sunday Times Magazine on the 4th December 2005 titled 'The Survivors'. They each recalled how after managing to get off the Number 30 bus after the explosion they went to Lynton House where they were looked after by office staff.

Regina Cope is number 14 and Regina Friel number 10 in this diagram

Curiously neither of these passengers were called to give evidence, nor were witness statements from them read out! Nor were any witnesses from Lynton House who aided the survivors called or had statements read and Lynton House is hardly mentioned during the 7/7 Inquests!

One of the passengers who did give evidence Gary O'Monaghan recalled how after getting off the bus “I landed on my feet and just started to run” [14 Jan p36:13] and “This is perhaps why I ran away fearing it would explode again” [p36:21]. He is, however, almost certainly the 'Gary' who appeared at The London Assembly 7th July Review Committee in 2006 and stated (page 202) that he had gone into the 'E.C.Harris Building' (which is Lynton House) and then declared (page 208) “I was staggered when I left. The whole foyer of the building was full with people on trolleys like that, all bandaged up”.

Interestingly another witness at the GLA Inquiry 'Beverli' who wasn't on the bus but worked in Lynton House for a consultancy firm that was involved with Olympic delivery recounted how she and her colleagues “were told as staff, that we were banned from talking to anyone - particularly the press, which was an immediate dismissal offence - police, or anything regarding the experience”(page 35).

An official reference to Linen(sic) House does appear in the document INQ10129-2 which was called up by Mr Andrew O'Connor QC on the morning of 19th January [p12:16]. This is a copy of a police log which, timed at 10:10:55, states “have 10 inj'd persons at Linen Hse 7-12 Tavistock Sq, WC1”. Possibly by coincidence, possibly not, Mr O'Connor a short while later [p36:21] whilst questioning WPC Kerslake, states incorrectly “The BMA building is where you see the words Lynton House, that's the name of the BMA Building”!!

A not dissimilar exchange can be found in the transcript for the afternoon of the 19th January, Michelle Du-Feu: ”At the time he (the security guard) was actually in the building immediately before that. I think its called Lynton House or something” [p6:22]. Mr.Andrew O'Connor: “I see. In any events the BMA building's on that side of the pavement. We know where the bus was just opposite” [p6:24].

[Editor: Lynton House was presented with a plaque from the Metropolitan Police almost immediately after, this report is date 19/07/05: "The lobby of Morley’s building, Lynton House, became a makeshift hospital for the wounded immediately after the attack. Some of the firm’s own first aiders were among the first on the scene after the bus was devastated by the bomb. At least another 20 businesses occupy space in Lynton House, and the Metropolitan police has presented a plaque for the building’s lobby area commemorating the help given by staff working in the building." source]

We can only speculate at the reason for all the official coyness. Could it be the numbers involved?

'Jaki Turner' wrote on the BBC London blog 'BBC London Bombings - 7 July: One year on': “Last year at this time I was working at Tavistock Square when the bus went up next door and we the first aiders at Lynton House dealt with some 35 people hurt on the bus”.

If we add those 35 to the casualties dealt with in the BMA Building and the County Hotel as well as the BTP Headquarters, Great Ormond Street Hospital, The Tavistock Hotel, Tavistock Court and the offices of the Rev Deborah Hodge, the three who PC Walker put into civilian vehicles and the five who Walter Hayden set off to UCL Hospital with and then factor in the “at least 13 patients” that Ambulance Officer Williamson had at Tavistock Square south and “the number of people with minor cuts and injuries” Dr David Tovey reported as being outside the back of the BMA building there will be a total considerably in excess of the 47 non-fatalities on the bus!

Which in turn raises other interesting questions!!

*David Minahan was by occupation a claims investigator for an insurance company and later a leading firm of solicitors and has experience of "forensic" matters. David was also the National President of a major Trade Union (MSF now merged with the AEEU to form Amicus). David researched and wrote the London Bombings Dossier published on the J7 website and says he is convinced that there has been a massive cover up and campaign of disinformation about the events of 7/7.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

You Couldn't Make It Up!

by David Minahan*

Twenty five of the passengers who survived the explosion in the first carriage of the Piccadilly line train have given evidence, either in person or writing, to the 7/7 Inquest. This reveals that 12 of them actually entered the train at King's Cross, five of whom, Tracey Brade, Gillian Hicks, Garri Hollness, Paul Mitchell and Philip Patsalos recall getting on through double door 5 i.e. near where the explosion subsequently took place. Paul Glennerster was uncertain if in his case it was door 3 or door 5.

None of these witnesses had any recollection of seeing Germaine Lindsay!

Olawale Akarele, who entered through door 5 but further up the line at Turnpike Lane, indicated in his evidence on the morning of 1st December that he may have seen him. However his testimony was far from convincing and he admitted when questioned by Mr. Keith that he hadn't mentioned this in a statement made four weeks after the event, going on to say “Don't know for sure, just in the picture triggered”.[p69:7]

Later he revealed to Ms Gallagher that his recollection was of a big Afro Caribbean man wearing a yellow or green T-Shirt and no baseball cap![p90:2]

What no one disputes is the crowded conditions of the platform and the train.

Raymond Wright, the London Underground driver who travelled in the cab alongside Tom Nairn and assisted with the evacuation of many of the passengers, told how when he arrived at the platform the barrier was closed as a result of this overcrowding, and he was only allowed through because he was wearing his uniform.[p2:18] (It is perhaps worth reflecting that this would make it unlikely that Germaine Lindsay could have hurried on to the platform “at the last minute” after rushing across from the Thameslink Station. The scenario we were expected to accept at least until “the goal posts were changed” and he and his companions were “placed” by the Inquest, on the earlier 7.25am train from Luton).

It is surely surprising that somebody squeezing on to the train, encumbered by a large rucksack, (”very large, about waist height” according to Julia Roberts the forensic scientist [1st Feb pm 87:6]) didn't attract attention!

The forensic evidence given by Clifford Todd, the principal Forensic Investigator from the Forensics Explosives Laboratory, on the 1st February, is extremely interesting. The prognosis being that the explosions were ignited by a charge from a battery source or other electrical supply acting as a trigger for a small amount of the highly volatile substance HMTD, which in turn set off the the main “mix” of up to 10 kilograms of hydrogen peroxide/piperine!

Simply a matter of activating a snap connector or just attaching the leads to the battery in order to complete the circuit the court was told.[p45:25]

Quite how simple it would have been to carry out this task rummaging in a rucksack whilst standing up in a crowded train only seconds after it had pulled out of the station is perhaps open to conjecture!

Surely more significant, however, is the revelation made by Mr. Todd [p48:29] that at Russell Square no traces of HMTD, nor the hydrogen peroxide/piperine homemade explosive or indeed any other explosive was found! Nor indeed was there any trace of an initiator. [p55:12]

Apparently the strength of the explosion was such that all were obliterated. [p49:13]

This of course prompted the question as to how pieces of the identification documents, passport, addressed envelope etc. which Germaine Lindsay, and his three co-conspirators, had obligingly brought with them, had survived?

With commendable candour Mr Todd reflected “that whilst it is always possible that there could be some circumstances where they might survive in a fairly undamaged state, maybe at one scene, but the fact these were found in all 4 scenes, at least to some extent, in this state does quite strongly suggest to me that somehow or other they weren't actually on the person or in the rucksack”! [p59:14]

The implications of this seemed to send the inquest temporarily into some kind of legal “la la land”!

Lady Hallet put forward the suggestion that there might be an indication of “a concerted effort to ensure identification” (presumably she meant by the “bombers” rather than the authorities?). Whilst Mr Keith. although “not wishing to set any hares running” wondered if there might have been somebody else at the scene carrying this documentation” (a sort of suicidal equerry?).[p61:6]

Eventually it was agreed that the most plausible explanation was of the documentation probably being carried by the deceased in something like a plastic bag rather than in the actual rucksack and, therefore, being shielded somewhat from the effects of the explosion!

Plausible or not this quite overlooks the problem that Germaine Lindsay's body was apparently moved post explosion to an area at the end of the carriage where, according to Det. Insp. John Brunsden giving evidence on the morning of 17th December, most of the remains of the documentation were also found!


Documents were recovered from area Y

Perhaps, therefore, we should speculate whether Lindsay had some kind of pre-death premonition that his body was to be moved and left the plastic bag there before returning to the area where the explosion was to take place? Perhaps the bag was by his side all the time but miraculously the contents were blown over the other passengers to settle in the area where the body was eventually placed?

The phrase “You couldn't make it up” would seem to be appropriate!

Except that somebody apparently did!

*David Minahan was by occupation a claims investigator for an insurance company and later a leading firm of solicitors and has experience of "forensic" matters. David was also the National President of a major Trade Union (MSF now merged with the AEEU to form Amicus). David researched and wrote the London Bombings Dossier published on the J7 website and says he is convinced that there has been a massive cover up and campaign of disinformation about the events of 7/7.