Accessing MI5 files on July 7 'impossible', inquest told
Revealing top secret MI5 files about the July 7 bombers to the families of those killed in the attacks would be "impossible", it was claimed today.
Investigating whether the security service could have prevented the atrocities would involve "handing over the keys" to MI5's Thames House headquarters in London, a hearing to decide the format of the inquests for the 2005 bombings was told.
Neil Garnham QC, counsel for the Home Secretary and MI5, argued that examining MI5's involvement was outside the scope of the inquests.
He said there would be no problem with providing highly sensitive intelligence material to the coroner and counsel to the inquests.
But any jurors could only see the material if they all underwent intrusive "developed vetting" and neither the bereaved families nor their lawyers would be allowed to see it, he said.
"It would be the security service's position that disclosure of sensitive information to a jury is simply not possible," he said.
"For the same reasons as for juries, disclosure to the families would be impossible."
Mr Garnham said the two official reports about the July 7 attacks by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) - made up of security-cleared MPs - had adequately investigated MI5's involvement.
He admitted that the ISC was not "institutionally independent" because it was appointed by and reported to the Prime Minister.
But he insisted it was operationally independent from both the Home Office and the security agencies.
He said: "The stark reality is that no more information could be revealed of that which was shown to the ISC without seriously compromising national security, and in particular the security service's ability to counter the threats of further terrorist outrages."
Mr Garnham said there was "overwhelming" public interest in not having top secret MI5 documents revealed in the hearings.
It emerged after the attacks that security agencies came across two of the July 7 suicide bombers in 2004 while investigating other terrorist plots.
But they were not considered to be of sufficient interest to be put under surveillance.
The coroner, Lady Justice Hallett, asked whether it would be possible to restrict the intelligence material discussed in the inquests to that related to the July 7 attacks.
She said: "The families want to know why the decisions were taken in the way they were, and to put questions."
But Mr Garnham suggested a problem would arise because it was necessary to put the decision not to place the July 7 bombers under surveillance in context of all the other investigations MI5 was carrying out at the time.
He said: "It is difficult to see how that can be done without, metaphorically speaking, handing over the keys to Thames House."
The coroner revealed today that she went on the internet to read conspiracy theories about the July 7 2005 attacks on London.
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 Chelsea victory parade: Chelsea mocked on Twitter as 'tens of fans' pack the streets of London
- 3 US warned by Chinese media to stop meddling or 'war will be inevitable'
- 4 Woman, 21, dies after taking contraceptive pill that 'caused fatal blood clot'
- 5 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
US warned by Chinese media to stop meddling or 'war will be inevitable'
How China's richest man Li Hejun lost $15bn in an hour - and made a fortune
Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Snoop Dogg on why he doesn't regret displaying misogyny towards women
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...