Marie Fatayi-Williams swiftly flew in from Nigeria, on the suspicion that her son Anthony might have been killed in the London bombings. On 11 July she gets to make an impromptu speech in Tavistock Square where the bus blew up. ‘He’s missing and we fear he was in the bus explosion’ she says, adding ‘We don’t know.’
Anthony commuted into work each day on the Northern line travelling due South, and that morning he seems to have left it at Euston: ‘We do know he made a call to his office at Amec at 9.41 from the NW1 area to say he could not make it by tube but would find alternative means to work,’ his Mother wrote. He would then have to have been on the 30 bus. He was aiming for Tottenham Court Road and had been doing that journey to work for years. That 30 bus assuming it was travelling from Marble Arch towards Hackney Wick (as it said on its front) was due to travel northwards from Euston, not south towards his workplace. She is anguished that, five days after the event, no-one can tell her whether her son is alive or dead.
A friend called Amit commented: ‘He had left the Tube when he called his office – do you think he was on foot?’ The characters in this book’s narrative do not address the question, that Anthony would have had to get onto the 30 bus at Euston at around 08.30, if he was blown up in it.
On the 12th Marie is gobsmacked to have the police ask her, ‘Have you heard from your son?’ She is beginning to get the dreadful suspicion that they know perfectly well that he has died – and, where his body is. But they request from her a ‘DNA sample’ plus his tooth dental records. As if this weren’t enough, she has the police intimating to her that her son might be a terrorist. They keep asking her heartless questions that cause her distress.
Then, by the 14th, a week after the event, she prays, ‘Whatever the news might be, let me hear something of Anthony’. She asks the family liason officer, ‘Any news yet?’ and he answered as he always did ‘No nothing yet, Marie.’ But, later that day she finally heard.
They are taken to see his body at the morgue: ‘Anthony was at peace’ with ‘the trace of a smile upon his face.’ She saw no burns, no cuts.
But, hang on Marie, how did your son die? Did you not see any tear in his body, or sign of fatal illness? This book is highly emotive – and very honest – but is a bit short of certain technical details.
At the Inquest she testifies that she finally heard of her son’s death on Tuesday 12th July – that is two days earlier, and such an alteration is unfortunate. (Jan 12th am, 5:8) It slightly undermines the central theme of her book.
Her book has the 30 bus ‘travelling from Hackney to Marble Arch’ like various other sources that morning – but I’d say the Inquest has now produced several witnesses indicating that the bus had come from Baker Street and drove Eastwards to Euston.
Her darkest suspicions were confirmed: ‘It is now clear that the police had Anthony’s body all along. They had known who he was, because of the personal effects they returned to me later: his distinguished green and white wristband with the inscription ‘Nigeria Making Progress.’ The police brought back his Oyster tube pass as well as his work ID badge. Eventually they returned the briefcase, which had a receipt in it; therefore – ‘They knew all the time who he was.’
So, they could have told her that same day instead of waiting a week. She later discovered that other victim families had had similar experiences.
She is bewildered and angry to discover that no public enquiry into what happened will ever take place: ‘Am I supposed to sit back, while the security services appoint themselves judge and jury?’ – a very pertinent comment.
Remains of the 30 Bus
There is a moving scene where she and a few others are allowed to see the blown-up bus. As well as the advert on its side ‘Absolute Terror, Bold and Brilliant’ it had the serial number 17758 where she finds the ‘77’ quite appropriate? With its top blown off, should it not be kept in some museum she wondered? Is this not a precious national monument? But she is told it has to be crushed, no photos were allowed - the public must never see it!
This is a thoughtful book, of a woman moving through a nightmare where nothing makes sense and she realises she is never going to get truth or honesty from British officials.
Inquest testimony means there is no doubt over how Anthony died. I heard the testimony of Georgina Ford, on January 14th 2011:
Q: At what point of that journey did you see this man who we believe to be Mr Fatayi-Williams?
A. Well, when he got on, I saw him standing up opposite the rear doors. After the explosion, this man was lying on top of what appeared to be a pile of bodies, sort of where the upper deck would have started. (Jan 12th am 94:16)
He was sitting in the middle of the back row but one in the lower deck, according to the Met’s diagram for the Inquest, so the top of the bus collapsed right on him – that corroborates Ms Ford’s testimony.
It was quite clear to Ms Ford that it was him – totally dead – and there cannot have been many Nigerians on that bus. So why were his parents not notified that same evening, or maybe the next day? Why was Marie Fatayi-Williams – who had fflown over from Nigeria to find out what was happening – tortured by being kept in suspense, day after day? Why was she asked on the 12th of July by a police officer, ‘Have you heard from your son?’ – and told to give DNA records?
She has set up a Foundation in her son’s memory, ’to encourage multi-cultural debate, education and international peace.’
Film about Anthony
There is a film by Thomas Ikimi ‘The Homefront’ which covers the same family but it is rather lacking in any significant reflections. It accepts the State’s definition of ‘a terrorist,’ accepts the official narrative, nor does it have any comment on the inordinately long delay before the Mother was allowed to see the body – a central theme of Marie Fatayi-Williams’ book. The film vaguely tells us that Anthony was last seen getting onto the bus at King’s Cross (did he mean Euston?) but this is stated so casually and without corroboration that we are unsure whether to believe it. So it’s a bit disappointing.
For the Love of Anthony A mother’s search for peace after the London Bombings, by Marie Fatayi-Williams, 2009
The Homefront an 81-minute film by filmaker Thomas Ikimi (2007) a cousin of Anthony F-W available from Culture Shop, Bristol.