Blair orders review into MI5's actions

Pressure on MI5 intensified yesterday as Tony Blair ordered a review into its handling of intelligence about two of the July 7 bombers, while demand for a public inquiry ratcheted up a gear.

Pressure on MI5 intensified yesterday as Tony Blair ordered a review into its handling of intelligence about two of the July 7 bombers, while demand for a public inquiry ratcheted up a gear.

The Prime Minister asked the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) to examine the Security Service's actions after it emerged that links between the London bombers and the fertiliser plotters had been missed.

The Tories claimed the ISC would not produce an accurate report because it lacked "any independent investigative capacity".

The revelations also prompted survivors and relatives of those killed in the 2005 attacks to descend on the Home Office and formally request an independent inquiry.

The high-profile visit was hastily convened after Monday's convictions in the fertiliser trial after which apparent Security Service failings were revealed.

It was disclosed that MI5 had observed July 7 ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan and sidekick Shehzad Tanweer meeting the fertiliser plotters on several occasions in 2004.

Shortly after Monday's trial, ISC chairman Paul Murphy issued a statement backing his committee's original conclusions in 2006 which gave MI5 a clean bill of health.

But yesterday the ISC received a request from Mr Blair to review the way the July 7 intelligence was handled.

In a letter to Home Secretary John Reid, shadow home secretary David Davis - who called for an independent inquiry - condemned the decision to consult the ISC.

"Any follow-up examination, which you now concede is necessary, would inevitably include both the failure of notification and the ISC's prior consideration of the matter," he wrote.

"The difficulty with an ISC review is that it lacks any independent investigative capacity and would be required to assess itself."

News of the review did not placate the survivors and bereaved of those killed in 2005 who demanded a "comprehensive, accurate and definitive" account of events.

Up to 50 of those affected by the bombings signed the letter from the 7/7 Inquiry Group, including Danny Biddle, of east London, who lost both legs in the attacks.

It was delivered by a core of six, including 36-year-old Rachel North, who survived the blast on the Piccadilly Line train. She said they had been misled by the Government: "A year ago we were being told that the bombers were clean skins, coming out of the blue. It is quite apparent now that they were not."

Ms North, 36, said information about the bombings was disjointed and contradictory. "Fifty-two families have lost those they love, each person murdered left a devastating trail of loss.

"Nearly 800 people have been injured, many are permanently disabled. All of those people's lives will never be the same again as a result of the first suicide bombings on western soil. Here we stand with so many questions still unanswered, driven by our desire to save lives by finding out the truth."

Neither Khan nor Tanweer was identified by police and MI5 until after the bombings.

MI5 said there was no evidence at the time to indicate that either Khan or Tanweer had been involved in the fertiliser bomb plot and were just seen as fraudsters.

Nader Mozakka, who lost his 47-year-old wife, Behnaz, in the attack, said he had always "had an inkling" that the families of the victims were not being told the truth.

A Home Office spokesman said Home Secretary John Reid understood the feelings of those affected by the blasts and promised to consider their plea.


PM to name day

Tony Blair declared yesterday he will make a "definitive announcement" about his future next week - and all but endorsed Gordon Brown as his successor at No 10.

Mr Blair is now expected to announce next Wednesday or Thursday that he is resigning as Labour Party leader, a move which should see his replacement as Prime Minister in Downing Street by July 2.

The Premier used a TV interview marking 10 years since his May 1 landslide general election victory to say: "I will make my position clear next week. I will say something definitive then."

And later touring Scotland in the run-up to elections tomorrow, he said: "Within the next few weeks I won't be Prime Minister of this country. In all probability, a Scot will become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

"That's someone who has built one of the strongest economies in the world and who I've always said will make a great Prime Minister."


David Whetstone
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Business Editor
Mark Douglas
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