How the Inquest struggled to keep the lid on their Edgware Road story
The hole that moved
Over the years, the position of a huge hole in the floor of the 2nd carriage on an Edgware Road Circle line train, on the morning of July 7th, has seemed a mystery. It could apparently move about between the first and second set of double doors. Here is a letter from the Home Secretary John Reid to a group of Edgware Road survivors, putting it by the first set:
My officials have made enquiries of the Metropolitan Police. The police have confirmed that the wording of the Official Account accurately reflects their initial conclusions following statements they took from witnesses and their early examination of the scene. This shows that the bomb probably exploded near to the first set of doors. But where exactly the bomb exploded has yet to be established. The police are currently awaiting the final report from the Forensic Explosives Laboratory. This will be vital in determining the precise location of the bomb at the time of its detonation.
They were waiting for a ’final report’ from the Forensic Explosives Laboratory was required – to tell where the hole was! You couldn’t make it up. There is no hint here that anyone would be able to look at the remains of the coach – the primary scene of the crime – and ascertain where a huge crater was located. (1)
This was also the view of the Government’s Official Report of 2006, that the blast had been by the first set of double doors.
We are reminded of the Piccadilly line coach near Russell Square, where the Met first placed the blast centre by the first set of double doors (near the driver), then Rachel North started blogging away, averring that she had been standing right there and it wasn’t there. So, they moved the bomb location over to the second set of double doors. (2) One might naively suppose that the blast location in a ruined coach was a fairly straightforward thing to ascertain.
Maybe the Met’s ‘Operation Theseus’ (for investigating 7/7) is taking too far the words of the Lord, ‘Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.’
At the 7/7 Inquest in November 2010 the curtain was at last drawn back to reveal (drum roll) the position of the big crater – it was at one side of the space between the second set of double doors, the side away from the driver. It cannot be moved any more because of the eminence of professor Tulloch, the Australian media studies professor, who was sitting right next to it. The Inquest did rather garble-up his account of where he was sitting – for a reason we will come to. The Met gave a diagram to the Inquest, that clearly showed where the hole was:
Number 10 is ‘Khan’, number 13 is Daniel Biddle, number 16 is John Tulloch.
Other holes were reported too, as one would expect from a blast that came from beneath, but not as big as the huge crater. Witnesses alluded to these other holes, but clearly the government’s story cannot have this! (3)
Khan is absent from any witness statements or CCTV images – for London or Luton – on that day, with one sole exception, as is becoming glaringly obvious from the present Inquest. The authorities have only one testimony that puts him in London – or indeed anywhere else – on that morning, to which we now turn.
Mr Daniel Biddle has given enormously divergent accounts to different newspapers, as to how he ‘saw Khan’ in the carriage – hardly surprising, considering the way he lost both legs and an eye, due to standing right next to what became the big crater, then being smashed out through the door onto the outer tube wall, spending two months in a coma in a hospital, where he teetered in between life and death and viewed the posthumous ‘Khan’ jihad video from a hospital bed – before making any public statement. (4)
His first statement to The Mirror had Khan sitting down on one of the four seats between the two sets of double doors, ten feet away from Mr Biddle, with a rucksack on his lap. He made eye-contact with Biddle just before his rucksack blew up. Then the next two interviews, with The Times (December) and Guardian (January) had Khan standing packed right next to him in the crowd, with his rucksack on his back and making eye contact just before ‘pulling the cord.’ Clearly that ‘memory’ is an expression of his primary awareness of where the bomb went off – that blew his legs off. My guess is, he agreed to take part in the Inquest on condition that these accounts were not attended to. At the Inquest Biddle comes back to his initial Mirror story (except, that there is no longer any eye-contact). He answered ‘Yes’ when asked, would he confirm the distance of ten feet away? (Nov 8 am 42:23) So, inexorably, the police had to place Khan where Biddle said he was (Number ‘10’ in the figure).
We are surprised that the Inquest did not break out laughing, at the extreme absurdity of the position, whereby ‘Khan’ is sitting nowhere near the blast epicentre, in fact a good ten feet away from it.
The person Biddle testifies to seeing cannot possibly be Khan:
there was nothing about him that made me think he was dangerous in any way … he looked like a normal guy going to work within London, whatever he did, and there was nothing that he did that made him stand out different to anybody else at that particular moment in time. (Nov. 8, 30:18-25)
Khan was wearing a white baseball cap according to the (highly dubious) CCTV from Luton, and maybe from King’s Cross – no way could he resemble an ordinary commuter. But that hardly mattered, given the amnesiac and credulous attitude of the British media towards the 7/7 story that is drip-fed to them by the Met.
Biddle will ‘recall’ Khan moving his hands over his rucksack just before the blast – and that will do. Never mind the various police judgements that the rucksack had to be on the floor; or that no-one else in the carriage noticed him.
Two people who had sat directly opposite where Khan was placed did give Inquest testimony, but why were they not asked whether they saw Khan? It seems unlikely that no-one else was sitting on that row of four chairs where Khan is located, given that five or six persons are here shown standing up in the adjacent space between the double doors. We must wonder if the Met would be reluctant to produce witnesses who had been sitting there, who (a) would not recall Khan, and (b) have no injuries.
The Court responded to this impossible dilemma by obfuscating the positions of persons in the coach, especially Tulloch. It did this be having two diagrams of the coach: one with seats numbered consecutively, and the other which numbered people in the coach. (5) They needed some way of distinguishing seat-numbers from person-numbers. Eg, Tulloch was person 16 in one diagram, sitting in seat number 7 in the other. That shouldn’t have been too hard. But, more than one barrister kept alluding to him as sitting in seat number 16, and so forth, and deep confusion resulted – I suspect that not many people browsing the Inquest-transcript (of November 8th, afternoon session) are going to follow what was going on. But, Tulloch did clearly identify his seat, as the one right next to the space by the double-doors, and he did locate the crater as being in front of him and immediately to his right. (6)
While perusing the two diagrams, notice that one fellow numbered as ‘9’ near the blast was killed by it and hurled right over to the other side of the first set of double doors. He crumpled up in the corner by the door. That body flew straight past the seat where Khan was allegedly sitting!
We note how the positions of the six or seven dead bodies at the moment of blast, as reconstructed by the Met, are clustered around a centre. That is the centre of the space between the second sets of double doors, very close to the blast location.
The Inquest should summon John Reid, to explain how he could have given the information as Home Secretary that the crater was by the first set of double doors. Was it because, it was near to where they believed that Biddle was placing Khan in his first testimony?
The Inquest should review evidence that the coach was lifted up from the rails by the mighty power of a blast below the coach, as described by the early testimony of Guardian journalist Mark Hogenbaum:
passengers had just left Edgware Road when they heard a massive explosion under the carriage of the train’ he explained, which had caused all this mayhem. Just as their train left for Paddington, passengers felt the blast as ‘tiles and covers on the floor of the train suddenly flew up, and then, the next thing they knew, there was an almighty crash which they now believe was from a train opposite hitting their train which had been derailed by the explosion. Then everything went black..
The Inquest heard the driver of the train, Ray Whitehurst, remembering what it felt like, as the bomb went off. He experienced a lift, as of the coach being ‘raised’ – and then as it came down again the train suddenly stopped and he was slammed against his front window:
Q. Do you recollect a movement or a physical sensation in the seat in which you were sitting or the train itself?
A. I felt the front of the carriage raise and it was as if I’d hit a brick wall. I went — the train just stopped dead in the air and came down with a thump, and I hit my head on the windscreen (Nov 16 pm, 45:20-25)
Maybe the Inquest needs a train engineer to ascertain if indeed the blast did tend to lift the train up?
We must surely feel glad that Mr Biddle has come through with a fairly optimistic outlook after the unspeakable horror he has been through. But, as regards how he lost his limbs, the following comment from blogger ‘Jim’ may be relevant:
Many of the survivors on the trains lost their lower limbs meaning the blast most likely came from underneath. This is probably the reason more people were not killed because the vector of the blast wave was partially dispersed by the floor of the train.
1 The best account of the hole in the Edgware Road train comes from ‘John’ given to the London Assembly back in 2006, who actually fell into it.
2 One week after the event, the Met placed the bomb-crater of the Piccadilly Line train in the first carriage by the first set of double doors, and has stuck with that story; while the BBC (and the Official Report) moved it to the 2nd set of double doors.
3 For evidence of other holes, see here.
4 ‘It can be inferred that there is no definitive account from Danny Biddle. His position and Khan’s position in the train seem to alter each time he tells his story’ - ’Official Confusion‘ website.
5 The diagram which gives consecutive seat numbers, also gives the positions of bodies after the blast.
6 There is a sub-plot about whether Prof. Tulloch ever ‘saw Khan’ – which would be tricky as he was sitting on the other side of the blast-crater about fifteen feet away from ‘Khan.’ In an early interview he said: ‘I don’t know if I did see him…I’m still not sure.’ (The Sunday Telegraph Australia 10th July, no longer online). Then a BBC interview has him locating the bomb crater and presuming Khan was there, but not seeing him.
PS you might find this J7 post helpful, which has recently been drawn to my attention. I’m hesitant linking to them because of their rather venemous accusations of plagiarism – but it seems to me we cannot avoid the fact that we are singing from the same hymn-sheet.