Senior 7/7 officer 'was never formally debriefed'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A senior police officer who took charge on one of the bombed 7/7 trains today told an inquest he never had a formal debrief following Britain's worst terror atrocity.

Former Inspector David Mugridge said it fell to him to make the "very hard decision" to declare the piles of dead bodies a "crime scene".

But despite his role, he was only ever required to fill in a "sheet" on the evening after the disasters.

"I have never, ever been debriefed on this operation, not by the Metropolitan Police or anyone else," he said.

"I was quite surprised about this. I would perhaps consider myself, because I had done it, to be the expert the Met had for dealing in that sort of situation."

Mr Mugridge told the inquest how on arrival, he forced himself to ignore the injured passengers emerging from the tunnel and move swiftly towards the stricken carriage.

"I had to steal my heart to walk past those who were walking wounded, to get to the scene, to ascertain what had gone on, on the scene and take command of the scene," he said.

Once there, the retired officer found himself facing a sea of bodies. The living and the dead were "intermingled" and passengers could be heard "moaning and groaning", he said.

"I then made I suppose my only decision of the day," he added.

"It was quite an easy deacon in some ways, and a very hard decision in others."

"Which was?" he was asked, by Hugo Keith QC, counsel to the inquests.

"To rescue the living and the rest unfortunately would be a crime scene," he replied.

Teenage suicide bomber Jermaine Lindsay killed himself and 26 others when he detonated his homemade rucksack device on a Piccadilly Line train between King's Cross and Russell Square stations.

The blast, at 8.50am on July 7 2005, was the deadliest of the four attacks on London's public transport network that day.

The inquest of the 52 victims heard Mr Mugridge, a former member of the Royal Navy, was blown up during the Falklands War.

It was this experience which led him to conclude there had been a bomb on the carriage.

During his time on the stricken train, he dispatched "runners" to relay messages to the surface and collect a "wish list" of supplies, including first aid kits and a field telephone to improve communications.

The inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice, in central London, was told how he later joined colleagues at the nearby Renaissance Hotel where he filled out a sheet in relation to the King's Cross blast. He was given no other formal debrief.

The inquest heard how the officer feared further explosives on the Tube but refused to voice his concerns.

He told the inquest this was to ensure others "could concentrate on the job in hand" rather than "worry about their own safety".

"I made a conscious decision that we were going to rescue the living," he said.

"If there was a secondary device there, well, then there was a secondary device and we would keep our fingers crossed."

Mr Mugridge, who became emotional as he left the court, also spoke of the difficulties faced by the emergency services who struggled in dire conditions to remove casualties from the train, often carrying them awkwardly on stretchers, all the way up to ground level.

The Sutton police inspector was later awarded an MBE for his efforts that day, the inquest heard.

The coroner, Lady Justice Hallet, heard further evidence about the final moments of victim and mother-of-two Susan Levy, 53.

Mrs Levy, who worked as a legal secretary in the City, was discovered with "very severe lacerations" to her legs and was struggling to breathe, the inquest was told.

But though medics battled to save her, Mrs Levy, from Newgate Street, near Cuffley, Hertfordshire, was later pronounced dead at the Royal London Hospital.

Asked if a tourniquet applied to limbs at the scene could possibly have saved her life, Dr Alistair Mulcahy replied simply: "Yes."

The consultant anaesthetist at the Royal London Hospital had been working as a volunteer doctor for the British Association for Immediate Care on the morning of July 7.

His work at the time - assisting the London Ambulance Service in major incidents - was unpaid and staff sometimes bought their own supplies, the hearing was told.

Thanking him for his efforts, the coroner concluded: "We are all enormously grateful to you and your colleagues who volunteered your services and by the sounds of it, sometimes even had to pay for your own equipment.

"Thank you for everything that you did to try to save Mrs Levy."

Suicide bombers Mohammed Sidique Khan, 30, Shehzad Tanweer, 22, Hasib Hussain, 18, and Jermaine Lindsay, 19, killed themselves and 52 others when they launched attacks on three Tube trains and a bus.

More than 700 people were also injured in the atrocity.