MI5 rejects families’ appeal for review after deadly 7/7 attacks

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Security service MI5 yesterday rejected calls from families of the 7/7 London bombing victims for a wide-reaching review of its working practices in the light of the attacks.

The bereaved families urged the coroner at the inquest into the tragedy to make nine recommendations relating to the security agency, including improving its record-keeping and computer databases.

But lawyers for MI5 said it had learned lessons from the background to the July 7, 2005, attacks on London.

They said changes to MI5’s procedures had either been introduced already or carefully considered before experts decided they were not necessary.

James Eadie QC, representing the security service, argued against the bereaved families’ calls for the coroner to use her “Rule 43” powers to make recommendations to MI5 to prevent deaths in the future.

“The evidence simply does not give rise to any concern about other deaths in the future or continuing risk,” he said.

Patrick O’Connor QC, barrister for relatives of those killed in the attacks, said the families were not trying to persuade the coroner that MI5 could have prevented the 7/7 bombings.

But they believe the nine recommendations they are proposing would help protect the public, he said.

He told the coroner: “It would be a profound consolation for all the represented bereaved before you if they could make, through your Ladyship, some contribution to the better protection of national security and potentially to the saving of lives in the future.”

The families have suggested two recommendations relating to the accuracy of the information provided to the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), which oversees MI5’s work.

Mr O’Connor argued that mistakes in a major ISC report about the 7/7 attacks could undermine MI5’s reputation and ability to do its work.

“The jurisdiction and duties of the ISC are extremely important,” he said. “They are statutory. They are the only public body to which the security service reports and the public depends wholly, really, on their reports for the bare minimum of necessary information.”

Mr O’Connor highlighted incorrect information about how MI5 classifies suspects in an ISC report into whether the London bombings could have been prevented.

“The good repute and integrity of the Security Service may unfairly be harmed by this confusion and serious inaccuracy, we submit,” Mr O’Connor said.