July 7th inquiry would ‘divert resources’

A committee of MPs and Lords will investigate the links between the July 7th suicide bombers and fertilizer bomb plotters, but the government has ruled out calls for an independent inquiry into apparent intelligence failings preceding July 7th.

The home secretary John Reid told MPs yesterday the intelligence and security committee will examine the questions posed “before, during and after” the fertiliser bomb trial but insisted a full inquiry by the Home Office or MI5 would divert resources from ongoing counter-terrorism measures.

His rejection came as opposition politicians and July 7th survivors stepped up calls for an independent inquiry, as it emerged two of the suicide bombers became known to police during the fertiliser plot but were not picked up as potential terrorists.

Mr Reid denies any mistakes were made in assessing the threat posed by the July 7th bombers.

However, amid growing criticism he conceded that the committee should look at why the bombers were not identified and examine claims from West Yorkshire Police that MI5 failed to share information.

Backing his home secretary, the prime minister insisted a full inquiry would divert resources from counter-terrorism.

Tony Blair told GMTV: “The problem if you have an independent public inquiry into something like this is you will divert all their energy and attention into trying to answer the questions that come up in the inquiry.”

Nevertheless, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are maintaining pressure for an independent investigation.

Shadow home secretary David Davis claimed Mr Reid’s stance is “indefensible”, adding that the facts “do not hold up”. He claimed it is “plainly not true” that the July 7th bombers were not known to the authorities prior to the attack.

“The very fact that there are clear discrepancies between accounts of the operation of this case reinforces the requirement for an independent – not public – inquiry as an essential tool in improving our security services,” Mr Davis said.

During the fertiliser plot trial – in which five men were found guilty of conspiracy to commit explosion – it emerged that July 7th bombers Mohammaed Sidique Khan and Shezad Tanweer were observed by security services but not flagged up as potential terrorists.