May loses fight to keep July 7 evidence secret

Home Secretary Theresa May has lost a legal challenge to a coroner's refusal to hold closed sessions of the 7/7 inquests to hear top secret evidence.

Lady Justice Hallett yesterday rejected calls from MI5 and the Home Secretary for the families of victims in the 2005 London attack to be excluded from hearings while she examines highly-sensitive intelligence material.

Lord Justice Maurice Kay and Lord Justice Stanley Burnton upheld the coroner's ruling at the High Court.

They will give their full reasons at a later date. The Government could now attempt to appeal against the decision or use powers to transform part of the inquest into a public inquiry, which could examine the secret documents in closed hearings.

Appeal court judge Lady Justice Hallett concluded that she had powers under Rule 17 of the Coroners Rules 1984 to exclude the public from hearings in the interests of national security.But she ruled that this did not include "interested persons", such as the bereaved relatives, who are legally entitled to be represented. The coroner said the secret documents could be edited to remove names of sources and other confidential information.

"I am still hopeful that, with full cooperation on all sides, most if not all of the relevant material can and will be put before me in such a way that national security is not threatened,"she said in her ruling on November 3.

"Sources' names may be withheld; redactions made. I do not intend to endanger the lives of anyone. I do not intend to allow questions which might do so," she said.

Lawyers for Mrs May and MI5, also known as the Security Service, went to the High Court last week seeking a judicial review of the ruling. They argued that the coroner would not be able to reach accurate conclusions about MI5's involvement in tracking the 7/7 bombers without seeing the secret evidence, which cannot be revealed in open sessions. James Eadie QC said: "This is not an attempt by the Security Service to avoid or to minimise the scrutiny of their actions by the coroner by citing the need to protect national security. The position is entirely to the contrary."

Section 17A of the Coroners Act 1988, as amended in 1999, gives the Lord Chancellor power to adjourn an inquest if the death is being investigated by a public inquiry.

This provision was controversially used in the case of Azelle Rodney, 24, who was shot dead by police in London in 2005, after the inquest into his death stalled over the release of secret evidence. But Mr Eadie said last week there were "serious potential practical problems"with going down this route.

The inquests into the deaths of the 52 innocent people murdered in the 2005 attacks in London are examining alleged failings by police and MI5.

Bereaved families want to ask intelligence officials why they did not follow up plot ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan and his right-hand man, Shehzad Tanweer, after surveillance officers watched them meeting known terror suspects 17 months before the bombings. MI5 argues this is both unnecessary and impossible because doing so would require the disclosure of top secret files

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor