Conspiracy theories debunked on final day of 7/7 bombing inquest

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The Independent Online

The long inquest into London's worst terrorist attack ended yesterday with a plea for plain English and the debunking of some of the myths that have grown up around the bombings.

The coroner's officer, Detective Chief Superintendent Doug McKenna, was the last of 309 witnesses to appear before the inquest which opened in October. He ran through some of the conspiracy theories that have arisen since 7 July 2005, when four suicide bombers killed themselves along with 52 innocent tube and bus passengers.

There is a story of explosives under the Tube carriages. Not true, Mr McKenna said. Nor is there any evidence to suggest anyone other than the four bombers detonated the devices.

Mr McKenna also debunked the myth of a "fifth bomber" who was supposedly with the other four when they met up at Luton station to travel to London. There was a BMW driver seen at the station at the same time as the bombers, who boarded a train separately. Two others seen standing near the bombers were still on the platform when the quartet left.

"There is nothing to suggest any contact between the four bombers and any other person at Luton railway station," Mr McKenna said.

Earlier in the hearing, the coroner, Lady Justice Hallett, complained about jargon used by emergency services managers which she said might actually hinder rescue work because personnel would not be able to understand what they were being told.

Her outburst was provoked by a reference by the assistant commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Gary Reason, to "a conference demountable unit from a management centre". This was management speak for a mobile headquarters.

She said: "As far as I can tell management jargon is taking over organisations and perfectly sensible, straightforward titles are being changed. This isn't just somebody being pedantic about the use of English. When it comes to managing incidents people don't understand what the other person is [saying].

"I don't know whether a crew manager is somebody who is responsible for supplies or is used to fighting fires. I have no idea. What worries me is all you senior people of these organisations are allowing yourselves to be taken over by management jargon.

The judge's comments, which were greeted with laughter in the court, were a rare moment of light relief for relatives of the dead who have sat through 73 days of grim evidence, lightened by stories of selflessness and heroism by those who came to the aid of the dying and injured.

There have been criticisms that the emergency services could have reached the injured sooner. Yesterday, Hugo Keith QC, counsel to the inquest, criticised the lack of trust between emergency services who spent time separately checking there was no biological or chemical attack. He suggested that a Tannoy system could have been used to announce it was safe to go below ground.

Mr Reason replied: "If the command structure is working correctly as it is designed to do then the associated resources will get a briefing about those hazards [and] firefighters and other agencies will be deployed accordingly."

Although the inquest has finished hearing evidence there will be a delay before the verdicts are announced. Thursday and Friday of next week have been set aside for legal argument. Lady Justice Hallett has not indicated how long it will be before she comes back to court with the verdicts, but it is expected to be before 20 April when the court rises for Easter.