For bereaved, torment of asking 'What if?' continues

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The Independent Online

As John Taylor left court after hearing that his only daughter, Carrie, 24, was sitting two-and-a-half metres away from the explosion that blew up Aldgate underground station on 7 July and could not have been saved even if treated by paramedics earlier, he shook his head and sighed: "I guess we'll have to agree to disagree."

Mr Taylor, 63, is one of many fathers, sisters, husbands and children brought together for the last five months to listen to the testimony of 309 witnesses into how their loved ones died in the 7 July London bombings. There was silence in the court yesterday as Lady Justice Hallett delivered her verdicts.

For many, the end to this inquest was meant to provide the answers they had been waiting to hear for almost six years. What happened to their loved ones in their last hours and would they have survived if things had been done differently? As a group, they asked Lady Hallett to consider 32 recommendations on how to avoid future deaths. She approved just nine. More importantly, she said each victim "would have died whatever time the emergency services reached and rescued them".

Mr Taylor is not so sure. "There were probably 17 people who would have been alive for up to an hour after the explosions and before the emergency services came," he says. "While the court talks about the 'balance of probabilities' there are no absolutes. It is guesswork and there'll be some things that we'll just never know."

Graham Foulkes, whose 22-year-old son David was murdered at Edgware Road, is convinced of the need for a public inquiry to assess in particular the ways in which the security services could have prevented the attack. Pointing to what he calls the "unprecedented criticism of the security services" in Lady Hallett's final report, he says the official government statement "contrasts sharply" with the findings.

"I know when Theresa May says she will consider the report, this means she will read it and put it on the shelf until the media attention dies down," he says. "The scope of the inquest was clearly defined under very narrow lines."

Grahame Russell, whose son Philip, 29, died in the Tavistock Square bus bombing, said the two recommendations made to Transport for London in the report did not go far enough. "I still believe that, had there been better communications between the underground, the emergency services and TfL when the first bomb went off, then my son would be alive.

"The problem is if I continue to hold concerns about these issues, then my life would become very bitter. I hope what's written here will help people in the future, because it wont help me at all. It won't bring my son back."

Nader Mozakka, 55, from north London, lost his wife and mother-of-two, Behnaz, 47, on the Piccadilly line explosion. "The last few months have given us answers to some of our questions, but by no means all of them," he says. "I will continue to learn how to live with the pain and that's what we all have to do. A new type of life started for us on 7 July and we now have to keep living in it."