Tuesday, 9 November 2010

7/7 Inquests: Danny Biddle, the Rucksack on the Lap - and the Explosion on the Floor

Yesterday, 8 November, saw Danny Biddle as the opening witness at the 7/7 Inquest with regard to the Edgware Road incident (Factual Issue 3: Circumstances at each of the four scenes immediately following the explosions).

As the only witness to ever publicly claim to have actually seen Mohammed Sidique Khan on Circle Line train 216 at Edgware Road the media paid close attention to his testimony. Today's headlines scream out:
  • "Daniel Biddle: I was just 6ft from 7/7 bomb as it maimed me"
  • "7/7 survivor describes moment he saw terrorist leader detonate bomb on London tube"
  • "London bombings survivor saw bomb detonated"
However, there is more to the headlines than meets the eye, and more than might be gleaned from the media reports of Mr Biddle's testimony.

J7 have previously highlighted the many inconsistencies in Mr Biddle's accounts in our Edgware Road analysis on the July 7th Truth Campaign website. We also included this information in our submissions to the Inquests in the J7 response to factual issue 2. The many and varied accounts of Danny Biddle, as reported in the media, were referenced by Hugo Keith as Danny Biddle gave his testimony:
A.[DANIEL PAUL BIDDLE] No, I mean, there was nothing about him that made me think he was dangerous in any way or anything like that. If there would have been, I would have got off the train and got help. I mean, he was just a -- he looked like a normal guy going to work within London, whatever he did, and there was nothing that he did that made him stand out different to anybody else at that particular moment in time.
Q. [MR KEITH] Do you recollect him carrying anything?
A. He had a rucksack, like a small, black camping rucksack.
Q. Was he holding it or carrying it in a particular way that you can recall?
A. I remember it being on his lap.
Q. Mr Biddle, not unsurprisingly, the story of how you survived the bomb at Edgware Road has been widely reported in the press and around the world and a number of reports have purported to give accounts of your experience and memories of that day, and in those accounts there are repeated references to the possibility that the man might have been wearing a rucksack on his back, and that is what you recollect.
A. I've said all the way along from the very first statement I gave to the police he had it on his lap.
Q. Did he have one rucksack or two, or one or two bags? Was there anything else that he was carrying?
A. No, I just saw one rucksack.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit more, if you can, about the size of it?
A. I would say it would be about so big. It wasn't -- it was one of those sort of small camping rucksacks that you often see people that are going hiking would carry, so it wasn't like a full-sized camping rucksack, it was just a small to medium-sized camping rucksack. As I say, so big. [p31, 18 on]
Mr Biddle then continues with his testimony which, as noted above, has been widely and unquestioningly reported as an apparent confirmed witness account of Mohammed Sidique Khan allegedly detonating a suicide bomb at Edgware Road:
[MR BIDDLE] The train entered the Tube tunnel, I looked round, as I looked round, he looked up, I just saw a quick movement, then there was just a big, white flash, the kind of noise that you get when you tune a radio in, that kind of white sound, and it just felt like the carriage I was standing in filled -- just expanded at such a vast rate and contracted quickly and, with that, it blew me off my feet and through the carriage doors into the tunnel.
Q.[MR KEITH] When you say you saw a quick movement, what do you think was the movement that you saw? Was it some part of his body, or was it a movement in the bag?
A. It was his arm, he did that with his hand in the rucksack and the next thing --
Q. Because these proceedings can't record what you've shown us, did you just demonstrate that you saw an arm move somewhere near the rucksack?
A. That's correct.
Q. Did you see what precisely moved or whether there was any movement in the rucksack itself?
A. Literally, as soon as his arm moved, I was outside the carriage.
Q. Do we take it from what you've said that the rucksack was still on his lap, or was it on the ground?
A. When he made the arm movement, the rucksack was still on his lap.
Q. Were you able to discern any sort of expression or any sort of look on him at that moment?
A. I mean, before he set device off, he looked up and along the carriage and then he just looked down. He didn't say anything, he didn't shout anything that I can
remember hearing. He just put his head down, moved his arm and, the next thing, I'm outside the train.
Q. What was your first conscious thought after that?
A. I'd fallen out the train. [p33, 8 on]
Later in the proceedings Mr Biddle is questioned by Mr Saunders, representing some of the bereaved:
MR SAUNDERS: Mr Biddle, I will be equally short. You have described to Mr Keith seeing Khan's arm moving quickly. In your statement in December I think you gave a little more detail where you thought you'd seen him with a white cord at the rucksack?
A. That's correct.
Q. That's what you thought was being pulled?
A. That's what it looked like. As he pulled his arm, that's what it looked like he was holding, but I couldn't ascertain if that was from inside the bag or part of the bag. [p44, 21]

As J7 noted some time ago in our analysis of the various statements of Danny Biddle reported in the media, the Metropolitan Police have always maintained that the explosions occurred on the floors of the train carriages. This means that, according to the Metropolitan Police, the explosion at Edgware Road also occurred on the floor of the carriage:
At this stage, we do believe, however, that each device that was put onto the tube trains was likely to be on the floor of the carriage. [DC Andy Hayman, 8 July 2005]

That the explosions occurred on the floors of the trains was further confirmed during the trial of Waheed Ali, Mohammed Shakil and Sadeer Saleem when the testimony of Fort Halstead Forensics expert, Clifford Todd, was reported:
The bombers scattered identity and bank cards around the Tube carriages they targeted before placing their rucksacks on the floor and setting off the explosives inside them, jurors heard.

The details emerged for the first time as a forensics expert's evidence was read at the trial of three men accused of helping to plan the atrocity.

Jurors were told the "unique" bomb mixture was made up of black pepper and hydrogen peroxide, which was put into ordinary plastic bags alongside ice-packs to cool the volatile material.

The bombers were not wearing the rucksacks at the time of the explosions, but had instead put them down on the floor of the bus and Tube trains, it was claimed.

Neil Flewitt, QC, prosecuting, said that expert Clifford Todd had examined the wreckage of the bomb sites.

He said: "It is, in the opinion of Mr Todd, noteworthy that at each scene, some personal materials and documents, such as ID cards, were found relating to the bombers.

"Although they were damaged to some extent, they did not show the damage that would be expected if they were on the body of the bomber or in the rucksack, suggesting that in each case they had been deliberately separated by some distance from the actual explosion."

The problem that the Inquest now has is that of squaring the testimony of Mr Biddle -- an eye-witness sighting of a detonation by pulling "a white cord" on "a small, black camping rucksack", of which Mr Biddle remembers "it being on his lap" -- with the official version of the story that states the explosion occurred on the floor of the carriage.

On the floor of the carriage some distance from where this diagram and Biddle have placed Khan in a seat:

This graphic shows that Khan was allegedly in the seat marked 28 and the blast site at a position to the right of seat 27:

No doubt Mr Biddle's testimony will be forgotten by the media once the Inquests move on to discussing matters pertaining to the forensics at the scenes, the types of explosives used, and the method of detonation.

Until then, caution should be exercised with regard to any evidence that attempts to prove that the damage to the Edgware Road train, seen in the image below, was caused by mixing Hydrogen Peroxide with black pepper/masala spice.

A comment on this image can be read here.


  1. There are other parts of Danny Biddle’s account that do not make sense. I have already highlighted discrepancies in his Inquest account, by reference to the damage on the floor of the Edgware Road train. DB is assumed to have been blown out of the train and into the (very) adjacent tunnel wall that is lined with cables and sharp support brackets. In doing so, he lost an eye. From there, he must have dropped onto the track bed, where he discovered that his legs were damaged.

    The problem that I have is that there are Inquest witness reports of fire travelling along the tunnel wall, past the third carriage, and possibly the fourth. If the source of the fire (ball?) had been the explosion somewhere near the trailing end of the leading bogie on Car 2, Danny Biddle must have dropped through that fireball. Yet he appears to have sustained no skin burning and peeling of the severity that might have been expected from being enveloped in intense fire. That is a miracle in itself. So how did Danny get from the carriage to the side of the track?

    Another curiosity:


    is that, while he was lying by the track in the semi-darkness, trapped under a piece of metal (Page 35):

    I pulled my arms out from underneath it, and
    5 there was, like, a bluish flame on both my arms and my
    6 hands which, it went out on its own, it was like a flash
    7 flame, it just went over my body and went out, and it
    8 extinguished on its own. I didn't do anything.

    Then, on the same page:

    10 Q. One of your arms, or perhaps both of your arms, began to
    11 swell. Did you have to do something to your watch in
    12 order to --
    13 A. Yes, my -- I had a metal-linked watch on, and as my arm
    14 started to swell, the watch was really hot, and as it
    15 started to swell, it started to cut into my wrist, so I
    16 just took the watch off and threw it.

    There is something odd here. What was the bluish flame that he saw that, had it been from normal combusting material, would have left him with severe burns? His watch, he said, was really hot, indicating the absorption of considerable heat energy from an intense source – the shorter the exposure the more intense the source for the same degree of heating. However, the damage to the adjacent skin, which does not possess the same heat-sinking qualities would have been very severe, and deep. It is almost as if the watch had been subject to induction heating, ‘impossible’ in the normal course of events.

  2. I was sent some information regarding Danny Biddle's journey that morning:

    On 8th November, Hugo Keith QC asked Danny Biddle to confirm arriving at Liverpool Street overground station on his train from Romford at 8:40 am.

    Hugo Keith QC on 8th November:
    7 Q. So the journey was both delayed and took longer than
    8 usual and you didn't arrive to Liverpool Street until
    9 about 8.40?
    10 A. Yes, there or thereabouts.

    Source: July 7th Inquest Transcripts, 8 November 2010 - Morning Session, page 27 Lines 7-10.

    After running from his main line train, Danny Biddle arrives at the underground Circle Line platform and then ignores an overcrowded Circle Line train, preferring to wait for the next.

    Danny Biddle on 8th November:
    13 A. My normal routine would have been to get a drink and
    14 something to eat and then go down to the Underground
    15 platform, but because I was running late, I literally
    16 got off the train, ran through the station, down on to
    17 the Circle Line platform. When I arrived at the
    18 platform, there was a train there that was already
    19 packed with people. I thought, well I'm late anyway, so
    20 I let it go, and got on the next train that came along.

    Source: July 7th Inquest Transcripts, 8 November 2010 - Morning Session, page 27 Lines 13-20.

    A question for Mr Keith QC and his team:

    How is it that Danny Biddle, disembarked from a main line train that, in your own words, arrived at Liverpool Street at 8:40 am or as confirmed by Mr Biddle, "there or thereabouts", then made his way along the platform, across the concourse, down the steps to the underground ticket barriers, through the ticket barriers and eventually onto the the Circle Line platform, ignore an overcrowded train and wait for the next Circle Line train, and then travel eight stops including Edgware Road on a Circle Line train in under 10 minutes on 7th July 2005 ?

    From the Inquests own exhibit of the journey of train 216 we can see that it left Liverpool Street at 08.33

    INQ0850-2: tracketnet logs

  3. If we momentarily ignore the oddity of the two inquests evidence graphics above placing the "approximate position" of the blast in two different locations, Khan is at the epicentre of neither one. If it follows that Mr. Biddle is correct that Khan, 3 months away from his 31st birthday and at least four years older than Mr. Biddle who was 26 at the time, was the "young Asian guy" that he saw, the "approximate position" of the blast site should be at seat 28. Just how "approximate" should it be, when there is photographic evidence of a very specific hole in the carriage floor?

  4. And if we add into the mix this letter from John Reid, the Home Secretary at the time, dated 24 August 2006:

    Those who attended the Edgware Road meeting believed that there was a possibility of a second error in the Official Account. They said that Mohammed Sidique Khan was by the second set of double doors in the tube carriage at the time of the attack, whereas the Official Account states that Khan was ''most likely near the standing area by the first set of double doors.''

    My officials have made enquiries of the Metropolitan Police. The police have confirmed that the wording of the Official Account accurately reflects their initial conclusions following statements they took from witnesses and their early examination of the scene. This shows that the bomb probably exploded near to the first set of doors. But where exactly the bomb exploded has yet to be established. The police are currently awaiting the final report from the Forensic Explosives Laboratory. This will be vital in determining the precise location of the bomb at the time of its detonation.

    The wording in the Official Account therefore accurately reflects the police's understanding of the initial examination of the scene. The preface of the Official Account makes it clear that ''the evidence is not yet the full picture'' because it was known at the time of writing that more evidence might emerge from the ongoing police investigation. To date, none of the forensic evidence suggests that the Official Account is incorrect in stating where Khan was ''most likely'' to have been located prior to the explosion. Should the police revise their initial conclusions in the light of further information, an update will be issued.

    Yours sincerely,
    John Reid

    Edgware Road survivors question the Home Office report

    How was this possible?