J7: Book Review: Out of the Tunnel
A J7 review of Out of the Tunnel by Rachel 'North'
"I was incredibly lucky but I have no desire to become a Blast Survivor Girlie... I still really, really want to know - need to know - if the bomb was on my carriage and if any of the people who I saw getting in at King's Cross were hurt or died, especially the laughing black woman with braids."
Anyone with an interest in the events of the 7th July 2005, and the stories that emerged in the aftermath, would find it difficult to be unaware of Rachel 'North'. On the night of the 7th July 2005 'North' posted an account on the London message board Urban75 of her experience of the Piccadilly line train that had exploded that morning between King's Cross and Russell Square stations. Shortly afterwards she was approached by the BBC to write an online diary detailing her experiences and feelings in the week following the attacks. By mid-July, 'North' had also started her own personal blog, which was picked up by other bloggers and also the national media. The blog has also featured an account of her experience and her views on the issues surrounding the events of 7/7.
Very quickly 'North' became the most prominent of all survivors of the July 7th attacks through sheer number of TV, radio, newspaper and magazine appearances alone and it was not uncommon to read her views in related news articles. Often Ms 'North' featured as the only voice of people affected but, on occasion, her comments were used alongside those of others affected by the bombings.
'North' is one of the core members of the 7/7 Inquiry Group, a group that appeared in the public eye at the end of March 2007, nearly two years after the events of 7/7. The 7/7 Inquiry Group campaigned for a public inquiry into the attacks of 7th July 2005 and applied via Oury Clark for a judicial review of the government's continued refusal to countenance any kind of inquiry into '7/7'. The 7/7 Inquiry Group has not, however, addressed the issue of the Inquiries Act 2005, the legislation to which any inquiry would be subject should an inquiry ever be held. The 7/7 Inquiry Group's web site, with its site design undertaken by the UK Blogger behind Ministry of Truth, remained mostly dormant after the initial flurry of activity from which it was born, and has since disappeared completely from the Internet. Even the domain name 77inquiry.com, originally registered on 30th March 2007 by 'North', is no longer registered.
The release of Rachel 'North''s book 'Out of the Tunnel', like several other books written by people involved in the events of 7th July, was timed to coincide with the publicity surrounding the second anniversary of the event. Amazon described the book thusly:
In the early hours of a warm summer night in 2002, Rachel North was viciously attacked and raped in her own home. She was left for dead, but miraculously survived the horrific assault only to battle with severe traumatic shock symptoms in the aftermath. Barely recovered from the ordeal and the trial that saw her attacker finally jailed, Rachel was, by dreadful coincidence, reading a magazine story about her rape when Germaine Lindsay detonated his bomb in her carriage at King's Cross, on 7 July 2005. Informed by her past experience of trauma, Rachel was able to begin the long process of recovery from the horror of that day and used her past experience to help her fellow survivors. She set up a support group, King's Cross United, and found therapy in writing about her thoughts and feelings in the immediate aftermath. This book is the result. Out of the Tunnel is the emotional and inspirational story of one woman's incredible experiences, her battle with, and victory over post-traumatic stress disorder first time round, and her remarkable determination to use that experience to bring herself and her co-survivors out of the wreckage of the suicide-bombed underground train.
Since the July 7th Truth Campaign is devoted to campaigning for the truth regarding what exactly happened, as well as the background to what happened and wider repercussions of those events, the aspects of this personal account of surviving trauma and the journey to recovery which interested us the most were those in which 'North' describes her experiences at the time of the incident and in the immediate aftermath. It is on these specific points on that this article will focus.
Note: This purpose of this article is to try and achieve some factual clarification; where we draw attention to discrepancies or oddities in Ms 'North''s account, these are simply areas where we feel it is important to point out the need for clarification and clarity, especially in instances where conflicting information suggests possible alternative versions of events.
'North' begins 'Out of the Tunnel' in a manner which will be very familiar to those who have read her Urban75 account, her blog, or the many media interviews in which she has featured. She describes in some detail her morning prior to the explosion that occurred as she was traveling to her workplace in the city where, at the time, she worked as a Cross Media Marketing Director and advertising strategist. Details include how she purchased a particular magazine published that very morning at the kiosk of Finsbury Park underground station that, coincidentally, happened to be carrying the story of a sex attack on 'North', in her own home, by a stranger, three years previously. Ms 'North' recounted how she was reading the article about this incident as she rode the train on which an explosion would occur in the very carriage 'North' was standing, shortly after leaving King's Cross, killing 27 other people in this carriage.
'North' notes on page 3 that by the time she reached the platform of Finsbury Park, it was clear that the Piccadilly Line was suffering severe delays which, she says, a tannoy announcement attributed to a fire at Caledonian Road station. Later on, it would turn out that there was no fire at Caledonian Road; rather a 'fire alert', which led to that station being closed at 07.57 and the suspension of all services between Arnos Grove and King's Cross until 08.28.
'North' observes that the Piccadilly Line, during rush hour, normally runs a train every minute, but says that it “was running a terrible service that morning, with trains every seven or eight minutes.” This is a much longer delay than 'North' originally described on Internet message board Urban75, where she stated that the trains were running “every 3 or 4 minutes”. This earlier description would actually make more sense given that 'North' will then go on to describe how three trains arrived at Finsbury Park within an approximate 10 minute timeframe.
As a consequence of the delays, 'North' describes the station as much more crowded than usual and how she walks right to the end of the platform before being able to find a bench on which to sit and begin reading her magazine. Mentioning that the time was, by now, half past eight, 'North' acknowledges to herself that despite how it is sometimes easier to get on the train at the end carriage, that she had “no hope” of actually getting a seat on the train that morning (Page 3).
The platform was unusually crowded, all trains severely delayed, so I walked down to where there were fewer people so I could read in peace. I sat on a bench, glancing up only as the next train pulled in. It was too full for me to continue reading if I boarded. The second train was even more crowded. I was late. I would have to get on the next one, no matter how full.
Source: The Times
In the book, 'North' says that having engrossed herself in reading her magazine article, she was worried that she “was now in the early stages of a panic attack” (Page 4) and that this is, in fact, why she did not board the second train that had pulled into the station whilst she had been sitting there. Consequently, it is not until the next train pulls in that 'North' boards, having got up and walked towards the edge of the platform in readiness for it shortly after the previous train left.
In The Times article quoted above, 'North' claims that the train she boarded arrived at Finsbury Park at 08.42, although in her Urban75 account she stated the time she boarded was 08.40. It is worth noting that the original time of the explosion on the Piccadilly Line was given by the authorities as 08.56, and that this time was later amended to 08.50 when it was reportedly discovered that all the underground explosions had been "almost simultaneous". Bearing in mind that the train had another four stations to stop at between 08.40/08.42 and 08.50, including a wait of “several minutes” described by 'North' on page 6 of the book, when the train stopped at King's Cross, these times are quite difficult to reconcile.
'North' herself originally believed that the explosion had occurred at five minutes to nine – possibly because of the original time stated by the police. Indeed, on 'North''s Urban75 account she states that the train left King's Cross at about five to nine, whereas on her personal blog, on the entry for the same evening which is almost identical, she gives the time the train left as “about 8.50am”. Presumably, 'North' amended her blog when she discovered the revised times given by the police. In the book, neither time is mentioned except for partially replicating her Urban75 account at the point where she relates that she wrote it, on page 68 – giving the unamended time of five minutes to nine.
However, in an article published by the Sunday Times on 27 November 2005, 'North' writes, "What I also remember is how the passengers of the 08.56 Piccadilly line train began to hold hands, to talk to each other, to save each other from the panic that could have erupted at any moment."
Although the Amazon review quoted above states that she was reading the article at the point when the explosion occurred on the train, 'North' actually makes it clear in the book that she was not. Her wish to read the article “again” is what influences her decision not to board at the middle set of doors of the first carriage which she had already begun stepping on to, but instead to go a few metres up, to the first set of doors, at the very front of the train, where she felt she would have more space in which to read calmly (Page 4). 'North' boards the train and stands by a pole in the standing area and writes on page 7 that by the time the train was at King's Cross station, the area around her had become so packed with fellow passengers that she had to abandon further reading of the article - “It was impossible to read anymore, all I could do was lift up my head and concentrate on breathing in and out to fight the claustrophobia, and read the adverts on the walls of the train.”
The explosion occurred very shortly after the train left King's Cross. Another survivor, Jacqui Head, claims, "We had just left Kings Cross and had not gone very far, perhaps a minute." When 'North' writes of trying to explain this period to people who wanted to know what it was like, she describes her recollection of it:
The terrifying breathless crash of a past sensory overload felt in the body and unwillingly re-experienced, rather than objectively remembered.
An old reality smashing into the present normality, leaving my mind fractured and overwhelmed, and me standing there, unable to explain why I was pale and shaking, mouthing apologies.
Out of the Tunnel, p37
'North' goes on to explain, on the same page, that her inability to recall the details of what happened objectively was leading her to suffer terrifying flashbacks. She attempts to block them out of her mind, and tries to dilute the impact of them by “reaching for the whiskey” and trawling through news reports of the atrocity in order to “focus on the whole story, instead of just my bewildered part in it”. Elsewhere she has described the incident in apparent detail, "And then I felt rather than heard an explosion; it was as if I had been punched violently in both ears. The world went as black as if I had been plunged deep underwater" and goes on to note, "For a long time I couldn’t say [what it was like]. It was like a dream you can’t remember, a puzzle you can’t solve. But then I saw a television documentary about the bombings. Immediately I began to have flashbacks."
However, whilst watching a documentary on the bombings one evening, and recognising the onset of the flashbacks, 'North' takes the step of going to her computer and typing out the contents of the flashbacks as they come to her. On page 38, 'North' gives a descriptive account of the physical effects of the explosion on her person, the difficulty in breathing, the taste in her mouth and the smell, which she relates as “an acrid smell of chemicals and burning rubber and burning hair.” 'North' doesn't describe a bright orange light, as some other passengers in the same carriage reported, or the feeling of “electrocution” experienced and reported by several other passengers.
At first, 'North' writes, her "ears are deaf", but then she became aware of screaming. She also became aware that she was on the floor and that people were lying on top of her; she checked her limbs were intact and remembered seeing “shapes of bodies in the darkness moving” before the emergency lights of the tunnel gave some illumination to the carriage. As 'North' began communicating with other people around her, she says she was still aware that behind her were “terrible screams, and now soft groans”. She writes:
Something bad beyond words had happened behind us, but we could not see it, only hear it, and my mind would not try to guess it, not now, not yet. The groans were from people who were badly injured; I knew this but I didn't say it, because something told me not to. I looked back into what remained of the first carriage, and I caught a glimpse in the almost-darkness, of bodies on the floor, and of something else, something so horrific that I could not bear to see it. But it was still too dark to see very much, and I did not, could not look again.
'North' goes on to say that there were too many people around her for her to know the full extent of the carnage and destruction. This is understandable. However, what is less easy to fathom is that during the time that people were stuck in the carriage whilst waiting for help or instructions, which 'North' stated in her night of July 7th account on the Urban75 board was “perhaps 20 – 30 minutes”, the communication between passengers does not appear to have included making it clear that an explosion had occurred on that carriage.
'North' seems to have taken the decision to keep quiet about the “horrific” sight she was confronted with. However, people seemingly ignoring or not communicating the effects of the explosion is what may have led to people from the first carriage, where the explosion occurred, leaving the train with no apparent idea that whatever had happened, had happened in their carriage. This is especially staggering when one considers how close 'North' actually was to the blast, the process of which she covers later in the book. As she had said on Urban75, when asked if she knew where in the train the blast had been “The explosion was so loud I can't tell if it was several carriages behind or the next one behind." Even two days later, Ms 'North' was adamant that she had no idea that she was standing just 7 feet away from a rucksack full of explosives that had allegedly been placed on the floor near her by Germaine Linsday. She wrote on her BBC commissioned blog, at 1031 BST on Saturday, 9th July, "I still really, really want to know - need to know - if the bomb was on my carriage."
Clearly 'North' would have been disorientated from the blast, but she sustained only a minor wrist injury and it does seem astounding that she didn't realise the bomb had been on her carriage at all, particularly given that it was apparently just 7 feet away from her; that she observed that people had been badly injured; that there were bodies on the floor, and the 'horrific' sight that she could not bear to look at again after she had first seen it. Even taking into account that details may often be blanked out by a self-preserving mind, they do seem incredibly significant details to be dismissed.
It is worth comparing 'North''s estimate of 20 – 30 minutes, which is corroborated by accounts from other passengers in the carriage, with the account of two women interviewed in Brunswick Square. The two women told reporters that they had been led off the train by the driver within 3-4 minutes to Russell Square, as 'North' also was, along with all who had been in carriage one - a much shorter time frame than other passengers have described. Passengers from carriage two all the way back to the end of the train were taken back to King's Cross, so it would seem clear that these two women were on the same carriage as 'North', since they too were taken to Russell Square; like 'North', they too were completely oblivious to what had happened in their carriage minutes earlier.
It is very difficult to see how this time discrepancy has occurred, since there is, of course, a big difference between them. When asked if she knew anything about the two women who say they escaped the train within a very few minutes, 'North' clarified by responding:
Don't know them, BBC account was based on my impression of how long I was there, felt like 20-30 minutes, in fact it felt like much longer, turned out I was at Russell Square at 9.17am because my partner got a text then which he saved and showed me later on.
It is hard to describe how slowly time passes when you think you are going to die and you are in shock. Some people described it as feeling like moments, some like hours. I went with what seemed to me to be a reasonable guess on the day.
'North' had mentioned the text message during an earlier discussion where she gave the time it had been received as 9.16am. Either way, from her description of her arrival at Russell Square station, it seems fairly clear that 'North' was one of the first to arrive; on page 46 she tells how after leaving the station in order to smoke a cigarette and make a phone call to her partner, along with the text, a woman approaches her. Having discovered that the woman, Anna, is a nurse, 'North' beseeches her to go into the station and help the injured people that 'North' knows were screaming on her carriage. When she observes Anna going to the station entrance, 'North' sees that “they had pulled the metal grille closed now to stop the bombed people getting out, to stop normal people getting in.” However, Anna is let into the station when she mentions that she is a nurse. This is an odd detail – and backed up by the account of Noam Rave who was not allowed to leave Russell Square once she had reached it, and so had presumably left carriage one after 'North'. It is rather concerning to read that people were being forcibly kept inside the station, especially when considering that emergency responders attending the scene feared secondary explosions that could have been 'chemical, biological radiation or nuclear'. Closing people inside areas where it was feared that further such explosions would occur seems a highly questionable practice. If this decision was made as a result of trying to avoid potential cross-contamination, as suggested by a Fire Engineering article, Hazmat/CBRN Incident: London King's Cross Underground Station, then some consideration should be given to the need to avoid cross-contamination and its potential impact on survivors of any initial incidents who remain in situ.
The account given by the two women in Brunswick Square of being on the train for 3 – 4 minutes seems to make more sense when inserted into a time frame that begins at 08.50/56 and ends at 09.16/17 – especially when considering that this also included a long walk down a dark tube tunnel, as 'North' had described to some plainclothes CID officers when interviewed by them at University College Hospital, which 'North' relates on page 58.
She tells the officers how she came off the train through the driver's cab and which station she was taken to, “'Not King's Cross?' they asked. 'No, Russell Square, it took ages to walk down the tunnel, we had only just left King's Cross.' They looked at each other.” The officers then ask 'North' if there had been any damage to the tunnel when she left the train to walk up the tracks towards Russell Square.
I thought hard and said no. 'That means the bomb must have been behind me', I told them. 'Maybe further back in the train. I'm not sure where. I'm still alive so it can't have been near me.' (p58)
The first time 'North' actually mentions in the book that she thought there had been a bomb, is on page 43, when describing the text that she sent to her partner, referred to above in this article:
I texted that there had been a train accident but I was okay. I knew it was not a train accident, but I did not want to say that I thought it was a bomb. I did not want to believe the evidence of my senses. (p43)
A few pages later, 'North' tells how she hears her work colleague, who came to collect her from the station and go with her in a taxi to UCH, telling nursing staff that there had been a train accident. 'North' says at this point:
I began to accept that it was a bomb, and that I had known this almost as soon as I got up off the floor of the carriage and smelled the smoke and explosives. I remembered that I had been keeping this information to myself, because I didn't want to cause a panic on the train or at the station. It occurred to me that there was no need to censor the information any more, and so I told the nurse that there had been a bomb. She looked hard at me. "Really?" she said, still staring. Then she went away. I wanted to call out after her. Yes, really. There really has been a bomb on my train. I know it doesn't make sense. But that's what happened. (p50)
Strangely, though, when approached by a journalist from the Financial Times whilst still at the hospital, 'North' appears to revise her view that there was no need to 'censor' information any longer:
I told him what had happened. I did not mention my belief that it was a bomb. I simply described the 'almighty bang', how everything went black, how I feared I had gone blind, the crying and struggling, how we kept each other calm and even made jokes, saying if anybody's boss gave them grief 'we are going to tell them where to get off'. (p56)
However, during her interview with the CID, 'North' says:
“I told them that I was sure it was a bomb, not a power surge. They asked me why I thought that. I explained about the smell of explosives and the bang and the devastation.” (Page 58).
It is interesting that 'North' was able to identify the smell of the explosives, since at that point nobody, including the authorities, knew what explosives had been used - and still do not.
The CID officers photograph 'North', then tell her that they need her clothes and bag “for forensic purposes”. On the basis that her clothes were – variously according to the item in question - expensive, new or her favourite, 'North' begs to be allowed to keep them. Oddly, the officers agree, and give 'North' some brown paper bags in which to seal the clothes when she gets home; although, why not seal them there and then if the vague notion of the preservation of evidence had anything to do with the issuance of paper bags? The police apparently also advised her that they would call her if they needed them – having only minutes earlier told her that the items were needed (Page 59). This is borne out by the fact that when 'North' is interviewed at home, two days later, the police again ask for the clothes. This time, 'North' hands them over (Page 105).
After her CID interview at the hospital, 'North' asks to go home. Apart from a cut on her wrist which requires stitching up, 'North' is remarkably physically uninjured for someone standing just a few feet away from what DAC Andy Hayman had described as up to "10 pounds of high explosives". It is not clear how much time 'North' spent at the hospital, although the reader can deduce that it was less than four hours, since a nurse tells 'North', when she asks to be allowed to leave, that the hospital need to keep everyone there “for at least four hours, so that they can be monitored for shock, and breathing difficulties and internal injuries” (Page 59). 'North' persuades the nurse that she doesn't have breathing difficulties, and despite some earlier worries that 'North' has about her hearing – which she decides not to get checked out on the basis that she doesn't want to waste the time of the staff who could be attending to more seriously injured patients – she leaves the hospital, to spend the rest of the day getting out of gridlocked central London.
On 8th July, 'North' is looking through the BBC news web site when she sees something which fills her with shock. The BBC stated that the bomb had gone off precisely in the place where 'North' was standing, by the first set of double doors in the carriage. 'North' describes her violent emotional reaction to reading this information, which she is convinced must be wrong, as she would surely be dead if the explosion had truly occurred in that location . That it is the trusted BBC making the error seems to compound her trauma. 'North' forces herself to relive the experience of being on the train when the blast happened. However, this is where the book becomes quite confusing; the experience that 'North' details does not involve her being aware of where the blast originated in the train, any more than she had previously been aware of it:
The accurate report has come through. The bomb was definitely not by the first set of double doors, in the space between the seats where I and about fifteen others had been standing. It might well have been in my carriage – in fact – the more I thought about it, it must have been in my carriage because that would explain the enormous violence of the bang – so loud that I could not hear it......At the time, I had known the bomb was behind me – the force of it had thrown me forwards and sideways onto the floor of the carriage – but I had thought the bomb to be further back on the train. I felt sick. (p87)
At this point, 'North' draws a plan of the carriage on a piece of paper, including the locations of the doors, seats and where she had been standing and then says, surprisingly, that she also drew in “exactly where I thought the bomb had been, based on the vivid flashback memories I had experienced sitting in my chair.”
The reason that this is surprising, is of course because the flashback 'North' describes does not involve her suddenly becoming aware of exactly where the blast must have been. As seen above, 'North' deduces that the bomb must have been behind her through apparent logic and reason, but does not attempt to explain how she is suddenly confident of the precise location of the bomb, particularly after having spent two days not knowing that the explosion had occurred in her carriage only a few feet away. Even more curiously, the following morning of July the 9th, 'North' writes how she is still filled with the need to “check the position of the bomb. How close it had been. Find out why I wasn't dead.” (page 98), which suggests once more that 'North' did not know where the exact location of the blast was.
When she decides to ring the BBC to set them straight, they tell her that it was the police who had provided the information about the location of the blast. The BBC suggested that 'North' call the police herself to take up the matter of disputing the bomb location with them. 'North' does not tell either the BBC or the police during the conversations that she knows where the bomb was; only where it wasn't. As 'North' describes the phone calls on page 90, an interesting question is raised. She is uncertain of how to contact the police - she had asked the BBC for the number, but they told her that they didn't have it. 'North' writes that she had only seen a number on the television news for the Casualty Bureau, but knows this would not be the correct number for her to call. It is 'North''s partner who calls out to her when he sees the number for the Terrorist Hotline come up on the television and 'North' quickly makes a note of the number before calling it straight away. But why was 'North' not given the number, or even a number for those affected, by the police who interviewed her at the hospital on the 7th? It seems strange that survivors of the explosions who had been interviewed would be left without a number to contact the police about the event, especially given that the police had told 'North' at the hospital that they may contact her at a later date.
On July 9th, the police do just that, and visit 'North' the same day to take her statement. After she has given it, she asks them about where the bomb was in the carriage:
I pushed the diagram I had drawn over to Bill and Dave and they looked at it. Then Dave reached into a black briefcase and drew out a folded piece of paper, which he consulted.
'You're right. Absolutely right. You are an - amazingly - lucky, lucky girl. The bomb was in your carriage, by the middle doors, pretty much right behind you, as far as I know' (p107)
Since 'North' was by the first set of doors of the carriage, it is odd that the police would describe the next set of doors, further down the carriage, as being “right behind” her. There would, of course, be an entire stretch of seats in between these two areas, which are certainly more than a few feet in length, with numerous people filling the standing areas in between. However, it is good to know that the police were confident of the blast location, given that they, too, had stated it on the previous day to have been by the first set of double doors, as 'North' says the BBC told her when she called them. One would tend to hope that it was not 'North''s phone call to them which prompted their changing of the location of the blast, but it is somewhat difficult to understand how the mistake occurred in the first place – establishing the epicentre of the blast cannot have been that difficult.
As the police confirm 'North''s diagram, the reader is left only to wonder again by which process 'North' was able to go from not knowing where the bomb was on the train ("several carriages behind or the next one behind"), to the realisation that the bomb was behind her in the carriage, to working out the exact distance away and location; in an area by a set of doors as opposed, for instance, to have been in the vicinity of the seats. How did 'North' know that the bomb was not being carried by a seated passenger? Since her earlier statement in the book involves her reading the adverts around the walls of the carriage, it is fairly clear that 'North' was not observing her fellow passengers - apart from her recollection of the “smiling black woman” who was the last to board just before the train left King's Cross (Page 7). When 'North' expresses the concerns she had that a fellow passenger might recognise her from the photographs accompanying the story about her rape ordeal, whilst she stands and reads it on the train, she tells how she allays her fears by reminding herself “But of course they wouldn't; nobody makes eye contact with their fellow passengers or speaks to them on the underground.” (p 5).
Therefore, as 'North' freely admits in the book, she had no idea at which point Germaine Lindsay could have boarded the carriage (page 98), so how she was suddenly able to pinpoint on a diagram exactly where he might have been on the carriage is a compelling question.
The majority of 'Out if the Tunnel' is a very frank account of 'North''s attempt to cope with the trauma and continue with her life following what she experienced on July 7th 2005; how she was instrumental in establishing a support group for fellow survivors from the Piccadilly line train, her feelings of 'survivor guilt' and her increasing exposure to the media.
However, in the final pages, 'North' devotes several of these (Pages 362 – 369) to her disgust and contempt for what she describes as 'conspiracy theorists'. In particular, 'North' writes of how she came to be aware of such people; by noticing traffic coming to her blog from “a website which was linking to mine.” From her description of its contents, it is abundantly clear that she is referring to the personal blog of a J7 campaigner – however, it is highly puzzling to J7 that 'North' makes this claim; since there was never any link to 'North''s blog. Therefore it is, at best, incredibly misleading to suggest that J7 campaigners were somehow baiting 'North' to visit the blog, especially since the blog author, at the time of writing the entry referred to by 'North', was not even aware of her existence and was merely quoting an anonymous witness named 'R'.
'North' is very careful not to mention names either of specific individuals or web sites, but her use of the term “The 'July Seventh Truth' campaigners” is clearly designed to point to The July Seventh Truth Campaign. This is also misleading, since the graphic descriptions 'North' gives of web sites with offensive and outlandish claims about her, insinuate that J7 engages in this type of behaviour, which is not the case at all, nor has it ever been the case. Even when apparently recognising the fact that J7 do not participate in pushing theories regarding the events of July 7th 2005, 'North' says:
Many of the 7/7 'Truth Campaigners', while sanctimoniously distancing themselves from the more esoteric theories doing the rounds seemed nonetheless obsessively engaged in a campaign to prove that the government, police and media were not telling the truth about the events of the day. They were calling for an independent public inquiry, as I was. But the last thing I wanted was for the sane, clear-eyed demands for an inquiry from survivors and bereaved to get muddled up with similar demands from a bunch of people on the internet who seemed to think that the government might have arranged the bombings for their own unspecified nefarious purposes. And the fact that there were so many inconsistencies and holes in the accounts we had read so far meant that these internet obsessives were going to have a field day speculating away wildly until the cows came home. (p 266)
J7's refusal to be drawn into claiming speculative theories as facts is nothing to do with being “sanctimonious” but rather more to do with wishing to know the truth, instead of filling the void with a particular fiction of our own. J7 is not a campaign to prove that “the government, police and media were not telling the truth” - it would be a waste of time campaigning to 'prove' something which is already an inescapable fact. The government lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; the police are well noted for their fabricating of evidence and untruths, as illustrated by the cases of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four (to name but two instances) before we even get to more recent examples of the lies told about the circumstances under which Jean Charles de Menezes was murdered... and finally, there surely cannot be a “sane, clear-eyed” person alive who believes that the media tell the truth, because it is such an established fact that they do not, that it seems absurd to even have to make this point. Therefore, J7 have no need to prove these people are liars; they have done the job already by themselves.
The only similarity between our demands on the government and the demands of 'North' and the 7/7 Inquiry Group, appears to be the word 'inquiry'. J7 asks for an inquiry outside of the scope of the dubious legislation of the Inquiries Act 2005, whereas 'North' has stated on many occasions that she is happy to have any kind of inquiry, or 'proper response from the government'.
There is, however, one point made on page 253 in which J7 and Rachel 'North' are in accordance:
If the terrorism threat was so important that we had to change the constitution and carry ID cards and make draconian new laws, then an independent review of what happened before, during and afterwards, with all the information in one place, conducted by someone independent of the Government with the power to compel witnesses and make recommendations seemed to me not just useful, but downright essential........It was the public, after all, who were and still are the targets, not politicians and spooks. Ordinary people pay the price in blood, in damaged lives, in loved ones not coming home; ordinary people deserve the answers and evidence of lessons having been learned and acted upon.
Addendum: At the time of publication of this book review, the latest information regarding the activities of the 7/7 Inquiry Group was mentioned in a footnote in a 7/7 inquest transcript:
Sandra Brewster, Veronica Downey, Ros Morley and Graham Foulkes are all currently represented by Oury Clark. Further the 7/7 Inquiry Group, which Oury Clark also represent, included at one stage Nader Mozakka (now represented by Lovells) and Hazel Webb (now represented by Russell Jones & Walker) according to the Schedule of Clients appended to Oury Clark’s Pre-Action Protocol letter of 15 August 2007 to the Secretary of State for the Home Department seeking an independent and public inquiry.