The 7/7 Inquest kicked off to a sensation new start in the new year, with bus witness Lisa French recalling the image of Hasib Hussein on the top deck: ‘I made the decision not to go and sit next to him because I was aware we both had very big bags and that he, we, you know, would be taking up a lot of room.’ That shock announcement made headlines around the world – but, why had we never heard about this before? She suddenly becomes famous from what looks like a new memory she has acquired.
Watch the moving account by Lisa French of the bomb blast at Tavistock Square – given in 2008 or early 2009 (‘three and a half years’ after the event). She was diagnosed as having ‘Post-traumatic stress disorder,’ and given ‘cognitive behaviour therapy’ to try and cope with life. Her husband has suffered from nightmares, from what had happened to her. Her therapist advised her to try and fulfill an ambition – so, she decided to try and jump out of an airoplane, which she did. She also raised some money for charity.
She blacked out at the moment of blast, so doesn’t remember anything, but when she came to people were talking about ‘bomb’ and bus.’ Let’s have a quote here:
I can remember I woke up feeling very confused, didn’t really know what had happened, but I can remember hearing somebody say “bomb” and “bus” and realising, with the destruction around me, that something very serious had happened.
A year after this detailed account, which has no hint whatever of ’seeing the terrorist,’ she comes up with detailed memories of going up the stairs behing Hasib Hussein, implying she could recognise him, see him with his large bag sitting down, etc. Did the therapist plant the ‘memory’ in her? She said:
I went for quite a number of sessions, over 20, with my psychologist, and he performed some cognitive behavioural therapy with me, and also some rapid eye movement therapy, too. The CBT therapy involved some discussion around what had happened and how that made me feel, and also quite a lot of homework.
What Ms French actually told the Inquest, was that the ‘terrorist’ she saw had carried a laptop-bag, large and square-ish, which was not a rucksack; he was either holding it in his hands (as he went up the stairs) or carrying it over one shoulder (Jan 12 am 79:2-7):
I thought it was just a big laptop rucksack that you could get plenty of other bits and pieces in, really. But it was quite large, sort of square, so I think that’s why I thought it was a laptop bag rather than a camping rucksack because it was still quite square for being a rucksack.
There were two young men at the front of the top deck, with rucksacks – either of them could have been what she was recalling.
Earlier in 2009 she gave an interview (Journal Live, Nov 2nd) entitled ‘ 7/7 bus blast survivor Lisa French meets her saviour.’ Her saviour turned out to be ‘Chris Symonds, the British Transport Police worker who came to her aid and guided her from the wreckage of the red London Transport bus.’ No hint was here given of her having any memory of seeing ‘the terrorist’ – as neither was there when she did the BBC interview (on that same date), where we learnt of the wonderful manner in which she overcame her terror – she had ‘travelled across the world to help other victims of bombings, and also cleared mines in the former killing fields of Cambodia.’ You can watch a brief intro to the BBC’s programme, ‘The remarkable story of the Tyneside woman who survived the 7/7 London bus bomb,’ no longer available. I’ll wager that it did not hint at the Inquest’s story.
In June 2010, Now Magasine published her story, ‘I sat two seats from the Suicide Bomber’ which appears (from a summary) not to be claiming sight of the ‘terrorist.’* Whereas, for the Inquest, the Met have put her five seats in front of ‘Hasib Hussein’ on the top deck.
There are quite a few earlier media accounts of her mainly concerned with 7/7 anniversaries, eg of how she keeps in touch with Louise Shepherd who was sitting next to her on the bus that morning.
A New Image of the Bus
This important new image of the blown-up bus was shown at the Inquest. Why was it not released for so long? The very level cut along the top deck, looks a bit as if the top of the bus had been pre-prepared to lift off. It hardly looks like a result of explosion. It’s helpful to compare this with an older image:
Compare these images with the Inquest’s diagram showing all the people on the upper deck:
The dead (here shown in red) are entirely to the right of the collapse-point. Hasib Hussein is shown in purple at position number 53. Click here to find the identity of the people numbered. The top deck of the bus collapsed between the ‘thirties’ (to the left) and ‘forties’ (to the right) using the numbers shown, and the dead are all to the right in this image.* The bus was packed as it pulled out of Euston, but then many dismounted when it stopped after turning into Upper Woburn Place. There were no standing passengers as it exploded, with most seats occupied.
What caused the blast?
Ms Sapna Khimani was sitting immediately behind where the Met have placed ‘Hasib Hussein’ – number 57 in picture. This seat faced the rear, so her back was immediately next to ‘the bomber’ – she was as near to ‘the rucksack’ as was Hasib Hussein. She is today quite alive and well, and gave testimony to the Inquest. (Jan 13th pm, para 26):
‘Whilst seated on the bus, the next thing I knew is that suddenly there was a bright flash of white light from behind me from left to right. Simultaneously, I felt that on my left side and a fire cracker bang noise, all coming from my left….[She blacked out, then recovered soon after as a medic was taking care of her] I was not aware of any pain or injury at this time… The next thing was complaining that I was feeling really cold and someone gave me some blankets.
They took Ms Khimani to University College Hospital for a checkup. Unfortunately the barrister Andrew O’Connor cuts off her written report here, from which he was reading. I inquired at the Inquest and was told there was no way the public could obtain the rest of the report – that is unfortunate. If anyone could get a further interview with her it would be of great value. In the meantime I suggest that her account conclusively disproves the notion that a devastating bomb went off immediately right next to her. She showed no memory of pain, did not have her back broken or destroyed (or we would surely have heard about it) and after blacking out for a short while was well enough to give her husband’s name to a medic who arrived to help her.
Mia Scott was sitting just across from where the Met have placed Hasib Hussein. I suggest that her testimony to the Inquest on monday, 17th January was totally authentic and reliable. The position in which she was sitting on the upper deck of the 30 bus was totally clear, and dispels any idea that the ‘suicide bomber’ was sitting next to her. Consulting the map, she was in seat 56, and just to her right and behind her was allegedly ‘Hasib Hussein.’ Her right leg was somewhat damaged but is now better. Her only permanent damage is to her ears from the blast.
This bus was moving very slowly on a stop-start journey, and it stopped for a while before being able to turn into Upper Woburn Place. In addition the passengers has exciting news to talk about, with reports of strange events and the huge crowds milling around. So various witnesses spoke of a convivial atmosphere during the quarter of an hour from embarking at Euston to the dreadful blast. Mia Scott told how she got up and looked around her, then looked out of the window. She could correctly identify from memory the various persons around her (her seat faced the back of the bus, to remind you). She rembered and described the ‘two girls’ to her right (in positions 57 & 58) and one of them using her mobile phone, and recalled the ‘Indian gentleman’ at posiyion 60. However, when she was asked if she recalled ‘the bomber’, ‘Hasib Hussein’ and told what seat he was supposed to be sitting in, she just looked worried and replied, ‘No I’m sorry I don’t.’ She described the ‘muffled bang’ and ‘as if I was floating through air’ (she had been blown onto the street, quite a distance behind the bus, as the barrister told her).
I suggest this testimony from Ms Scott makes the option of a ‘terrorist’ bomber sitting adjacent to her quite unlikely. She claimed she did not lose consciousness and her memory seemed intact. There was no large six-foot high Asian-looking fellow, sweating profusely and with dark glasses (to quote earlier witnesses from the number 91 bus) with a huge rucksack next to her - he wasn’t there.
Quiz Question: Here is a fine picture of the bus newly released by the Inquest. We note the perfect symmetry in which ‘blood’ has been spattered around the BMA main entrance – but, is this not too far away from the bus, so how did it get there? (I always tend to assume its pig’s blood…) Note the top of the bus on the road, far right, plus of course the Kingstar van – specialists in controlled demolition – its there in all the pictures.
P.S. Compare with the J7 analysis, where Lisa French saw another passenger on the top deck, carrying a large bag, and has since been persuaded to ‘remember’ it was Hasib Hussein.