New laws banning extremist propaganda should be considered to prevent future terror atrocities after London Bridge, a chief coroner has said.
Mark Lucraft QC, who oversaw the inquest into the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attack in June 2017, has called upon the Government to introduce tough new laws banning material which glorifies terrorism.
He said the gap in the law could be preventing counter-terror police from thwarting attacks.
Khuram Butt, the terrorist ringleader of the June 2017 attack, had been on MI5’s radar since 2015, and was known to view extremist terror material.
While there are offences for having materials to help plan terror attacks, and to disseminate terrorist publications, “there is no offence of possessing terrorist or extremist propaganda material,” said Mr Lucraft in a Prevention of Future Deaths report.
The Coroner also said that the security service’s suspension of their priority investigation into Butt before the atrocity was a matter “of legitimate public concern.”
MI5 suspended its investigations into Butt, who led two other terrorists into a ten minute frenzied attack, twice in the months before it was carried out – due to the sheer number of terror plots being monitored by the service.
While noting that the investigations were suspended so that security resources could be diverted into other high priority investigations, Mr Lucraft added: “It is possible that, but for that suspension, further useful intelligence about Butt would have been obtained, including more information about his links to the other attackers.”
Eight innocent victims were killed: Chrissy Archibald, Sebastien Belanger, Kirsty Boden, Ignacio Echeverría Miralles de Imperial, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, Xavier Thomas, and Sara Zelenak.
The recommendations made:
Eighteen recommendations were made in total in his report. Among them include:
- Further measures to reduce risk of rental vehicles being used in terror attacks. Both London Bridge and Westminster terror attacks featured hired vehicles.
- Improvements in translating intelligence from foreign security and intelligence services to prevent delays to acting on intelligence.
- More flexibility for emergency services response to ‘marauding’ terror attacks. The London Ambulance Service did not enter the area where most of the victims lay dying during the attack as it was designated a ‘hot zone’. At the time of the attack, policy was that paramedics should not be directed into a hot zone. However, Lucraft added: “It should also be recognised that LAS staff put themselves in harm’s way to render medical assistance to the injured.”
- Improved communication between the Met and the Ambulance Service
- More first aid training for police officers or certain categories of police officers such as those carrying firearms.