‘Real risk to security’ if inquests on Tunisia beach victims are held in public

The immediate aftermath of the Sousse beach attack. Picture: Tunisia TV1

The immediate aftermath of the Sousse beach attack. Picture: Tunisia TV1

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The Government wants inquests into the deaths of 30 Britons killed in a terror attack in Tunisia to be kept partly private in the interests of national security.

In an application, the Government said “sensitive security material” - certain documents and statements - may be used “by terrorists as a resource to plan future atrocities similar to the terrible attack in Sousse in June 2015” if put into the public domain.

The 30 victims were gunned down in the resort in June last year and inquests into their deaths will begin next month.

At a pre-inquest review hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, judge and coroner Nicholas Loraine-Smith said nothing would be kept from the families of victims, adding: “As far as possible everything will be in public.”

Judge Loraine-Smith said “the last thing in the world” that families would want to do is to assist anyone planning a future attack.

Andrew O’Connor QC, for the Government, told the judge it was “in the interests of national security” to keep some material out of the public domain, adding: “This risk is assessed by security experts to be a very real one.”

Andrew Ritchie QC, representing 20 families, said it is their view that “full and fearless” investigation is required to remain in keeping with the principle of “open justice”.

At a hearing in September, Mr Ritchie said many families feared the Foreign and Commonwealth Office may have failed in its responsibilities to thousands of British tourists, and that diplomats may have had “cosy chats” with travel companies interested in running profitable businesses, despite advice that there was a high risk of terrorist activity.

All the victims were killed by gunman Seifeddine Rezgui Yacoubi at the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel and the adjoining beach. They included Leeds couple Christopher and Sharon Bell, 72-year-old grandfather Bruce Wilkinson, from Goole, and Claire Windass, 54, a mother, from Hull.

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