Inquest into 7/7 deaths will look at British spies` role

The bombings in 2005 killed 52 commuters on three subway trains and a bus.

Last Updated: May 21, 2010, 16:25 PM IST

London: Inquests into the deaths of 52 commuters in the July 07, 2005, London transit bombings will look at whether failures by British spies and police contributed to the attacks, a judge ruled on Friday.

Judge Heather Hallett`s ruling is a victory for victims` families, who want to know whether the attacks could have been prevented.

Intelligence agencies had argued that such a wide-ranging inquiry could compromise national security.

"The scope of the inquest into the 52 deaths will include the alleged intelligence failings and the immediate aftermath of the bombings," Hallett said in a ruling handed down at the High Court in London.

Hallett said she would hear the inquests without a jury, because of the sensitive intelligence material involved.

The judge also said inquests into the deaths of the four suicide bombers would be held separately from those of their victims. Many families had expressed dismay at the idea of the killers` inquests taking place at the same time.

Inquest hearings will start in October.

In Britain, inquests must be held any time someone dies unexpectedly, violently or of unknown causes.

The bombings, by four British Islamists inspired by al Qaeda, killed 52 commuters on three subway trains and a bus in the deadliest attack on Britain`s capital since World War II.

Security officials have acknowledged that agents had the bombings` ringleader, Mohammed Sidique Khan, under surveillance for more than a year before the attacks. The domestic intelligence agency, MI5, eventually halted the surveillance, deciding he was not a priority target.

Bureau Report