7th July Report

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The London Assembly is at its best when it acts cross-party, solely in the interests of London and not seeking party political advantage.

The most dramatic demonstration of this was the “7 July Review Committee: the lessons learnt”, of which I had the privilege to Chair, draw up its terms of reference and issue the Report.

Evidence was taken from the emergency services, volunteers, the media, after care services, the communications industry and, most importantly of all and for the first time ever, from the survivors of the four explosions – Aldgate, Edgware Road, Russell Square and Tavistock Square. Not even the New York 9 / 11 Commission took evidence from the survivors of the destruction of the World Trade Centre.

The Committee, comprising of a representative of each of the parties on the Assembly, made fifty four recommendations, the vast majority of which have been implemented and the remainder, which required considerable investment, are being achieved.

The Government, which did not want the review to go ahead, and the then Mayor of London endeavoured to trash the Report – with no success. I remember attending a meeting of the Press Emergency Committee at which a representative of the Government attacked me for the headlines in the daily papers. Given his audience, he was way off beam. I stand by the Report but cannot accept blame for the headlines in The Sun, Daily Mail or the Guardian and The Mirror.

Some 250,000 copies have been downloaded worldwide from the GLA website and a further 20,000 copies have been distributed by the GLA.

The Report looked at issues “post explosion”. None of the security services would ever have given evidence in public on events leading up to the attacks on London.

We had few basic rules save that all evidence would be taken in public and published, and that survivors could give their personal testimony in private and their privacy protected, if they so wished.

It was a harrowing and all-consuming experience but I sincerely believe that it has helped make London a safer place, better able to respond to catastrophic events.

The full Report can be accessed via the GLA website, together with the evidence taken.

In my view, there are a number of issues that remain to be publicly debated and determined.

How well do we look after, long term, the survivors of catastrophic events? Individuals suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are still presenting themselves.

Should insurance companies still be able to include “acts of terrorism” as an escape clause? NHS treatment is limited and defined and does not always meet the needs of the innocent individual caught up in events beyond their control and for which they can pay a price for the rest of their lives.

Should employment law protect them? Examples are of people who have lost their jobs, not received promotion and had their lives shattered by their experiences.

Should those who are victims of outrages overseas be treated exactly the same as those who are casualties within the United Kingdom? At present they are not.

Should we do more to educate the general public, from schools upwards, as to what to do and expect when a catastrophic event occurs? After the 7 July bombings many survivors wandered off into the heart of London. What if it had been a dirty bomb? Shouldn’t there be a mechanism for collection points for survivors so that they (we) can be assured that they are contamination free?

I pose the questions. Shouldn’t the issues be debated?

Report of the 7th July Review Committee

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