London Bridge inquest: Coroner ‘not critical’ of police or MI5

Members of the emergency services attend the London Bridge attackImage copyright Getty Images

The coroner at the London Bridge inquests said he was “not convinced” MI5 and police missed any opportunities that would have prevented the attack.

The inquests into the deaths of the eight victims ended with chief coroner of England and Wales Mark Lucraft concluding they were unlawfully killed.

He said he would not be criticising MI5 and the police in his conclusions.

But Mr Lucraft did criticise the lack of barriers on the bridge – a “particularly vulnerable” location.

The attack, in June 2017, happened only two and half months after the Westminster Bridge attack.

Mr Lucraft said the lack of barriers showed “weaknesses in systems for assessing the need for such measures… and implementing them promptly” – and this was an “arguable” breach of duty by the police.

Image copyright Press Association
Image caption The victims of the attack clockwise from top left – Chrissy Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, Sebastien Belanger, Ignacio Echeverria, Xavier Thomas, Sara Zelenak, Kirsty Boden

But some victims’ friends and families remain critical of the police.

Philippe Pigeard, whose 26-year-old son Alexandre Pigeard was killed, also pointed to the lack of barriers, saying: “I think this attack could have been prevented.”

Speaking after the inquest concluded, he said there were “a lot of missed opportunities” to neutralise at least one of the attackers who was known to be dangerous.

Christine Delcros, who was severely injured and lost her boyfriend, Xavier Thomas, in the attack highlighted a “catalogue of failings”.

Ms Delros said it was “staggering” that Butt, a “well known extremist”, was allowed to work within the London Transport network, and that “opportunities to identify all the attackers and disrupt their activities did not occur”.

Mr Pigeard also paid tribute to nurse Helen Kennett, who came to his son’s aid.

Ms Kennett, who was out to celebrate her birthday, was stabbed in the neck as she tried to help.

Standing next to Ms Kennett outside court, Mr Pigeard said: “I want to thank so much Helen for her courage.

“She came to help my son who was bleeding to death. She was stabbed too in a few seconds.”

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu disputed claims that opportunities were lost.

Citing the coroner’s findings, Mr Basu said: “Even those closest to the attackers, and we have heard from them during the inquest, knew nothing of their murderous plans.”

He said it will “never be possible to stop every plot”.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionPhilippe Pigeard believes the attack in which his son Alexandre was killed could have been stopped

Summing up evidence earlier, the coroner had said the family of attacker Khuram Butt were not “convincing witnesses” in court.

He said each of Butt’s family members “accepted that they should now have done more at the time” and that they all “knew something of his extreme views”.

Four of Butt’s family gave evidence during the inquest at the Old Bailey: his widow Zahrah Rehman, brother-in-law Usman Darr, brother Saad Butt, and sister Haleema Butt.

Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Khuram Butt, 27, was the ringleader of the three attackers

Mr Lucraft said he could understand the pressures on Saad Butt – whose daughter had been killed in an accident.

But he said: “It seems to me that on the basis of what he accepted he did know of his brother and the worrying views he was espousing, he did very little, if anything, to accurately monitor his brother’s movements.”

Earlier in the inquest Butt’s widow, Ms Rehman, told the court his actions were “disgusting” and their children would never know where his grave was.

She said she would not grieve for his death and also denied prior knowledge of her husband’s plot – although she said she had been worried he wanted to go to Syria.

‘Anger in their eyes’

The coroner praised police officers, medics and members of the public who rushed to help on the night of the attack despite the danger.

PC Charlie Guenigault, 27, was off duty when he took on the three attackers alongside British Transport Police PC Wayne Marques and Spanish banker Ignacio Echeverria.

He said: “In my head I just see all three of them standing in front of me, knives in hand and fake vests on and that look of, ‘We’re going to kill you,’ basically that sort of anger in their eyes.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionAnton Sobanski was driving the number 43 across London Bridge when the attack happened

PC Guenigault, who was awarded the George Medal, said he “played dead” after being stabbed in the head.

Ringleader Butt, 27, alongside Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before getting out and stabbing people in and around Borough Market.

Xavier Thomas, 45, Christine Archibald, 30, Sara Zelenak, 21, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, Kirsty Boden, 28, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39, were all killed. Another 48 people were injured.

The three attackers were shot dead by police less than 10 minutes after the rampage began.

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *