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Last week marked the first anniversary of the London bombings

Photo: istock

4 July 2006

On July 7th 2005 devastating attacks on the public transport system in London left 52 people dead and over 700 injured, some very severely.  As London reeled from the news the legal profession moved into action to help.  The Law Society set up the London Bombings Legal Helpline and Leigh Day was one of a number of firms of solicitors who immediately offered free advice and support to victims of the attack.

One such victim was Australian Jodie Ayre who was travelling on the No.30 bus that was blown apart at Tavistock Square.  She suffered from a burst eardrum, a relatively minor injury compared to some, but on returning to Australia, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome, something she describes as “survivor’s guilt”.  Daniel Easton, solicitor in the accidents and disaster department at Leigh Day, was able to keep Jodie in touch with developments in the UK and was described as a ‘lifeline’ by Jodie in an article in the Times on 6th June 2006.

CICA

Leigh Day is dealing with eight  London bombing cases.  In the UK the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority administers the criminal injuries compensation scheme throughout England, Scotland and Wales. It pays compensation to people who have been the victim of a violent crime, such as the bomb attacks in London.  It is a shamefully slow and bureaucratic organisation with cases taking years, and interim payments on account of damages to avoid hardship whilst cases were being determined a rarity.

The 7/7 bombings have placed the CICA under hitherto unknown intense public and political scrutiny.  As a consequence they set up a special team to deal with the 7/7 cases and have dealt with these at a speed unheard for “ordinary victims of crime”.  That said, few cases have been given final awards as yet one woman who lost both legs in the bombings had still not received her pain and suffering compensation of £110,000 in April 2006 despite this being part of the tarif based scheme and therefore a totally uncontroversial payment.

One of the issues highlighted by the bombings is the arbitrary impact of the cap on damages of £500,000.  Whilst this seems a huge amount of money it is not if you are so badly injured it will be difficult or impossible to work again.  Care, aids and equipment may be required to be bought in for life.

Recent proposals to amend the scheme accept the cap should be removed and those seriously injured through crime properly compensated.

The government’s recent decision to pay a further £2.5m to the Bombing Relief fund (to be distributed to victims) can be taken as an open acceptance that the money on offer to victims under the CICA scheme is inadequate.

Further worries

As well as coping with the trauma of losing family members some people are facing the unjust situation that where those who died were covered by life insurance policies or by ‘death-in-service’ employee policies, their families stand to have their compensation reduced and sometimes completely wiped out by these payments.  Whilst no money can ever compensate those injured or bereaved in the tragedy, the financial security it brings does at least mean that victims can plan their futures without the added stress of money worries.

Calls for a public inquiry

Leigh Day are also advising the family of one of the victims of the bombings who tragically lost her life on 7th July 2005.  The family of Behnaz Mozakka has been calling for a full independent public inquiry into the bombings and has been in correspondence with the Home Office seeking answers to the many questions of public importance arising from the events of that day.

Public and political pressure is growing on the Government to establish an independent inquiry into the causes and lessons to be learned from the bombings.

By preparing their own narrative into the events which led up to the bombings, the Government have left themselves open to the perception of a conflict of interest.  The secretive inquiry conducted by the Parliamentary Intelligence & Security Committee has left more questions than it answered.  Day by day more information is leaking into the public domain which seems to undermine the conclusions of both these reports.

The bombings which hit London on 7th July 2005 were the biggest terrorist outrage in the history of the UK.   The loss of life, horrific injuries and impact upon the nation’s conscience have been greater than any disaster in recent times.  Yet the victims, their relatives and the wider public are left asking themselves why they have been denied a public inquiry and the answers they are seeking when such inquiries are routinely held into smaller scale tragedies.

The public are entitled to expect a full and independent inquiry conducted as openly as possible within the acknowledged limits of present security concerns.  The government’s procrastination and denial must soon be addressed.

Leigh Day continue to advise the Mozakka family as to possible legal avenues should the Government continue to evade its public responsibilities.

Final thoughts

The 7/7 bombings devastated many families forvever. Leigh Day is proud to have been part of the legal profession’s response to provide support to those bereaved and injured by the terrible events of that day.  The bombings have highlighted the inadequacy of how the state responds to the victims of violent crime and has led to proposals that those worst affected should be properly compensated which has been long overdue.   There have been some calls, notably from Labour MP David Winnick, to make special cases of the bombing victims and that all compensation claims should be settled as quickly as possible.  Others feel that it is invidious to single out the victims of 7/7 as being deserving of an accelerated compensation scheme in contrast to CICA’s usual process which can leave other people who have suffered injuries from violent attacks without financial support for months, and sometimes years.

For further information please contact Sally Moore or Jamie Beagent on 020 7650 1200.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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Sally Moore

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