World

U.K. bombing inquest to look at security failures

A British judge ruled Friday that an upcoming inquest on the July 7, 2005, attacks on London's transit system can look into possible failings of security services.

Judge approves expanded mandate against wishes of security forces

A forensic officer walks next to the wreckage of a double decker bus with its top blown off and damaged cars scattered on the road at Tavistock Square in central London on July 7, 2005. (Sang Tan/ file, Associated Press))
A British judge ruled Friday that an upcoming inquest on the July 7, 2005, attacks on London's transit system can look into possible failings of security services.

The decision, which was handed down by High Court judge Heather Hallett in London, was viewed as a victory for the families of the 52 commuters who died in the attacks on three trains on the city's underground system and one bus.

"The scope of the inquest into the 52 deaths will include the alleged intelligence failings and the immediate aftermath of the bombings," the judge said in her ruling.

Hallett said the families "want to know in essence the answer to two simple questions: Why were [the bombers] not put under surveillance? Had they been, might the London bombings have been prevented?"

Security agencies had argued against the move, saying it could compromise national security.

The inquest will also look into the aftermath of the attack. Some families want to know whether victims might have survived if the emergency response had been faster.

The inquest hearing is to start in October.

British security services have said they had the ringleader of the attack, Mohammed Sidique Khan, and another of the bombers under observation a year before the 2005 bombings. The U.K.'s domestic intelligence service, MI5, eventually decided Khan was not an important target.

with files from The Associated Press