Dear Ms Bridget Dunne,
Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2005080000735
I write in connection with your request for information which was received by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 30/08/2005. I note you seek access to the following information:
· Re: Events in London 7/7/2005. Why Police Web site does not give times that trains involved with Bombings left Kings Cross Station
I have seen and reviewed your original request which was responded to by Marion SIMEONE. I have also seen the e-mails which have passed between yourself and Ms Simeone.
I can see from your communications that you seek access to the precise details concerning the times which the various trains / tube-trains left the stations on the morning of the 7th July, and the times that the explosions occurred. You emphasis that you feel that you should be entitled to these details under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
The information you are looking for is essentially already in the public domain. It was widely published in the media in July, and released in police appeals, including those which Ms Simeone brought to your attention. I would strongly recommend the BBC website, which not only gives the broad information you seek, but also gives written and pictorial accounts of the events of that morning and the days that followed. That may provide the material you seek. An enormous amount of information, accurate and otherwise, is already published on the internet.
I must however explain that the Freedom of Information Act does not generally open access to information held by the police related to ongoing investigations. An exemption exists under the Act (s30) which essentially states that information related to investigations shouldn't be released unless there is a compelling public interest. In fact there was a compelling public interest in making public information related to the London Bombings, including the details of the journey's concerned, and it was made public. You however are asking for a level of preciseness which we judge to take the 'public interest' no further. Whilst the precise times are known, and will be relevant to future Court hearings, whether a train departed at 0840 or 0845 would not in our judgement advance current public knowledge.
I need also to explain that the events you refer to are subject to both Criminal and Coroner's investigations. The Coroner in due dourse will hear the sort of details which you refer to as it is inportant evidence to the Coroner's inquest process. Coroner's Court hearings are normally held in Open when journalists and the public can be present. Subject to any directions made by the Coroner, he/she may authorise more detailed publication. The Freedom of Information Act does not generally provide open access to evidence in advance of Court proceedings.
You refer to the witness appeal process being aided by precise times. In fact were we to follow that process, we would potentially lose witnesses who might for example think they had nothing to contribute as they caught the 0841, not the 0843. Similarly we could be said to be 'influencing' witnesses by providing details which could then be incorporated into their accounts. The witness evidence gathering process is intended to be as neutral and uninfluenced as possible. For example, if a police appeal said 'we are looking for a blue car' when later events showed it to be green, 'preciseness' would have been extremely unhelpful and 'not in the public interest'. If you have information to provide in respect of the bombings, then we would welcome your information.
All the times I have shown in this response are purely illustruative.
You are of course perfectly entitled to follow the complaints procedure, but I have sought here to explain accurately and fairly the position in respect of events which we recognise have enormous public significance. I have also sought to explain the process by which we have balanced the public right to information against the need to ensure a fair judicial process. I believe the information available to you adequated meets your and the wider communities needs, and that the more scientific precise details will in course become public via the correct system, i.e. through the Courts.
Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet which details your right of complaint.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in the MPS.
Should you have any further inquiries concerning this matter, please write or contact Neil Smith on telephone number 0207 239 2717 quoting the reference number above.
New Scotland Yard